An Amphibians Paradise
by John Howell
Our new neighborhood was ideal for water gardening. The massive pecan trees soared high above the custom two story homes. The squirrels played among the landscape. A near by pond contained elegant white ducks that floated serenely on the crystal blue water. Birds of all types soared through the air including the majestic hawk and falcon. This time I would build my ideal pond. My plants will prosper and my fish will be content. So it began.
I planned and designed and then planned and designed again. Bushes would be removed, deck supports relocated, picket fences added, and more. This was not a huge pond (less than 200 gallons), but I wanted the most in a small space. The waterscape consisted of 3 levels, the highest point was an open biological filter. This flowed into a fiberglass shell which further cascaded into a dug out plastic lined pond. Corkstone lined the lowest pond and was built up to hide the fiberglass shell above. Umbrella grass grew from the open filter and effectively hid the aeration tower. A few small koi called the lower/deeper portion home, while fantail and comets swam silently in the upper shell. Months of planning, weeks of sweat, and plenty of money finally culminated in my ideal miniature waterscape. All that was left was to sit back and enjoy the beauty of the falls, fish, and flora.
The first night, whether due to fatigue or to the soothing effect of water trickling over the falls, I slept very well. I beamed with pride for my efforts now revealed. The process of creation, construction, and completion is probably the most satisfying part of water gardening. The next night a nearby tree frog intermittently added his own music to the symphony of the falls. The third night, the tree frog moved in to call my pond home. My little green friend represented natures approval of my efforts. His chirping thrilled the nature lover in me. I eagerly called and bragged about my accomplishments to anyone who would listen. The fourth night Kermit had a friend join him at his private oasis.
By this time my wife was lost to my joy in direct relation to her loss of sleep. Happy tree frogs lose their cute chirping voices and begin to sound like ducks in heat. I tried to explain that this was a blessing not a burden, but she meerly pointed out that I had been sleeping on my “good” ear again.
I finally started to see her point when the neighborhood Houston Toad Society decide not to be out done by the small green tree frogs. Each succeeding night added more tennants to Toad Town. Soon, even on my good ear, I could not sleep through the night either. After only a fortnight, my oasis of water had turned into an Amphibian Paradise.
It became my regular routine to pull on my robe at midnight, go outside, and politely chase away all my guests. However, amphibian mating season was just starting. Each night meant more frogs, more toads, and more noise. The quacking and the chirping seemed to echo off the deck and brick walls. It was time for action. With fish net in hand, I again pulled on my robe and headed out into the darkness. The toads scattered, but apparently the frogs think they can hide by flattening themselves. I scooped up three little green tree frogs and carried them over the golf course to the willow tree at the big lake. I was so determined, that I didn’t even bother to be embarrassed about walking across the golf coarse in the middle of the night dressed only in my robe.
Still, I was to have no peace. The three tree frogs returned in two days and the toads made a mess of my pond with their millions of eggs strangling my snow flake lilies. I cleaned out many of the eggs and even more got sucked into my pump and filter. Still enough survived to turn the water into a moving mass of little black tadpoles. Even after gathering my guests in a card board box, and carrying them to the far side of the lake, I could not quinch the tide of toad pashion.
My continued lack of sleep created a dilemma in my mind. I was torn between my love of nature and my blossoming desire to commit froggy genicide. Fortunately, the love life of the common amphibian is restricted to just a few short weeks. The frog orgy ended abruptly and the honeymooners ventured back to those holes they call home. Once again the falls gurgled, the plants grew, and the fish swim contentedly.
The other day I noticed several cute little baby frogs in my yard. Surely these are the offspring of last years activities at Honeymoon Harbor. I wonder, how long is it until a frog reaches mating maturity?
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