A New Year? Time to Start Hopping

 

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?”

 

Comments always are welcome.

 

Springing Forward

During my years in Iowa, spring meant forsythia, pussy willow, violets, and tulips. Once I moved to Texas, I learned to love bluebonnets: a flower with one of the best marketing teams in the business. Together with Indian paintbrush, bluebonnets define the season for most people, and the ritual of being photographed in a field of the flowers is well-established.

But spring in Texas is more than bluebonnets. These delights, found in and around the Brazoria Wildlife Refuge on February 25, show the bold, colorful, and sometimes prickly side of a spring that’s already arrived.

The blue form of scarlet pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis f. azurea) is a lovely variation on a sometimes red or orange flower that’s native to Europe and parts of Asia, but which has naturalized worldwide. Continue reading