With the feel in the air that we are about to break the bonds of winter and move into that exciting time of year when the world comes back to life. When that sun does pop out and shine and a person can not only feel the warmth of spring but I think we can even smell it. To me it is such an interesting time of year and a time when we are so happy to be able to experience it.
Today I was out just walking slowly around my yard and sizing up all the projects that await me. (Truth is Mother Nature really didn’t have to go to all that bother to give me so much to do.) But since the earth is thawing and still very wet it got me to thinking back to my childhood days on our farm. Even then when it got nice enough to get outside I was out there. In the beginning of the move into spring about all I could do was explore and I really did like to explore. Farms have so much to see and especially when you’re a little boy and curious as I was.
One of my first places to explore was the ponds on our farms. We had seven and if I could get around them I would. (Parents of today are thinking oh no he was around water without an adult.) I never saw a fear of the water or me being in it as I couldn’t swim and there was no way I was going to get that close to a deep part. But I would get near if I could hear the loud sounds of the frogs and toads. The thing about these creatures in the early spring was they were in the shallow end of the ponds. At least what I was looking for. This is the time of the year that toads and frogs spawn and lay their eggs. I would find either the eggs or the newly hatched out tadpoles. There could be thousands of them swimming excitedly around and to me this was fascinating. You see for the for those who might not know a tadpole or pollywog as they also are called start life hatching from an egg as a larva and begin by swimming. Although it doesn’t take too long before legs appear and when the tail falls off they hop onto land either a toad or a frog.
It was as interesting as in just a few days I saw them go from just coming into this world to being grown up. Kind of experiencing our growing up in a fast forward way. If I would think of it I would take along a jar or can and scoop up some to take back to the house and watch. Now right here is where I want to say that anybody who lived on a farm or near a pond or ventured to explore more than likely did pretty much the same thing I did. This was more than likely our first biology lesson and was fun all at the same time. The thing that keeps playing in my head at this time was the noise around the ponds from the frog’s calls. As best as I can recall this was the first sounds I can relate to spring. So to me it is a happy song indeed.
Along with the tadpoles there were the first colors of a floral bloom. That was the forsythia bush. A hearty bush that endures the constant changing weather and withstands from bitter cold to extreme heat. At about the same time this was blooming the pussy willow tree was displaying its blooms. The bloom is a gray and is not leafy but a fuzzy like bud and gives the feel of fur which of course gave it its name. An interesting thing about these two plants is that you can gather a bouquet of branches before they bloom and put them in a vase of water and they will give you a bloom that can be enjoyed for days.
These items of course were found and gathered as I was on my explorations. I learned at a young age it was a wise thing to gather flowers and take to my mom as they could in most cases soften mom up after seeing me covered in mud and maybe even messing up her kitchen floor by not wiping my feet. As for a jar of pollywogs I brought them home for me.
Even though the world hasn’t hit what might be called its’ full stride as of yet it was still a refreshing change from where we had just come from. The other thing about the ponds was just how fascinating they could be and all I had to do was sit by its side and along with the serenade of the toads and frogs was if you watched the water you would see a ripple begin and expand from its origin. This was begun by a fish in most instances making a sudden move and was to me interesting. As I sat there from time to time a frog would decide to leap into the water and this caused a disturbance in the quiet that had been. I liked the quiet there that for some unexplainable reason I felt so good to be experiencing. A pond also has an aroma that is unique. It isn’t the most pleasant fragrance to smell but it is one that keeps a person aware they are around a pond.
One more thing that adds to entering spring is that the days are getting longer and we all stayed outside longer and therefore got to soak in the minor changes spring was doing. I think that seeing the tadpoles and flowers and they all being new was a message to us that here is spring coming and bringing another chance to enjoy it and make the best out of another year. When I was little those days seemed to last forever but sadly these days they pass oh so quickly. Now that I understand what it is all about my internal clock is moving all too fast.
One last thing I did around those ponds and if you get the chance do them now. That is find a couple flat stones and skip them across the pond! Man that is so much fun to do!
Rick Houser grew up on a farm near Moscow in Clermont County and loves to share stories about his youth and other topics. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.