At first it was only the palmetto leaf, a bit of crisp variety along the edge of the tangled, soggy slough, that caught my attention. Then, I noticed a smooth patch of green lying on the leaf. Moving closer, still uncertain of its identity, I reached out to touch one end, and it woke up.
The patch of green turned out to be an inch-long tree frog — Hyla cinerea — napping in the sunlight. A nocturnal creature that spends most of the night seeking out insects in swamps, sloughs, and stream edges, it had just settled down for a short winter’s nap when I showed up.
It surprised me that the frog didn’t hop away; only later did I learn that green tree frogs often walk, rather than leaping. After one good stretch, the frog moved a bit farther up the leaf and then settled in again, apparently willing to tolerate a curious human visitor.
Getting eye-to-eye with the creature, I asked, “Are you ready for the new year?” I swear I saw him smile as he asked in return, “Are you?”
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