Tadpole pond

What do you do when you and your favorite five year old find yourselves stuck at home on a gorgeous sunny morning?  Check out the tadpoles, of course.  We had gone down to the field to see how the blueberry plants were doing and, while I was yapping on the cellphone, I tried to distract him by making him count blueberry blossoms.  At five, he’s too smart to be fooled by that ploy.  He was more interested in visiting the tadpole pond that he had discovered with Uncle Chris. 

Ok, I agreed.  What was weird about our little excursion was that he took me.  I’ve lived here for eighteen years but he knows where the tadpoles are.   Go down the hill to the field, take the tractor path to the clearing by the stream.  Then go right, following the stream and the trail blazed by the trespassers until you reach a small pond.  Well, it’s small for a pond.  It’s big for a tadpole puddle.  And it is filled with tadpoles.

The spring-fed pool lies above the streambed in a primeval setting.  On this beautiful May morning, sunlight from a clear blue sky filtered through the woodland trees to the fresh green undergrowth.  Clumps of skunk cabbage with their enormous leaves dwarfed little Harper.  I half expected to see a brachiosaurus come lumbering along.  The pond had a little “beach” to it, which Harper promptly slipped on and gooped up the back of his pants.  That didn’t stop him, though, from scooping up fistfuls of tadpoles. 

Tadpole boy

We headed back to the house with some of the slimy critters.  Not forewarned of this adventure, I had not brought a jar along.  Harper wrapped eight tadpoles in a leaf and carefully carried them home.  Once home, I whipped out the fancy-schmancy bug inspection kit that I had found at the Dollar Store.   This amazing scientific tool is a clear plastic container with a special lid–one side of the lid has air holes and the other side contains a magnifying glass.  It even came with plastic tweezers for picking up icky things.  So we filled the container with tap water and plopped in the six remaining tadpoles that survived the leaf ride.  Alas, it was well-water and not pond-water, thus ensuring certain death for our amphibious friends.  We did get some good inspection time before they went into permanent sleep mode.  Their bodies were about the size of a pinky fingernail with a long tail.  Looking carefully through the clear container the very tiniest of leg buds were apparent–if you knew to look.  Harper didn’t “get it” that these little swimmers were preparing to turn into frogs.  

Tadpoles in hand

I am now dying to get back to the tadpole pond to check on their progress.  Next time, I’ll go prepared to collect pond water.  And PopPop is talking about setting up an aquarium.

Mondays at Maywood

Mondays at Maywood are my musings from my corner of the Hereford Zone.  So far the posts on my MaywoodLiving blog have been mainly read by friends, family, and whoever reads my husband’s Facebook posts, but The Zone Magazine has invited me to share my posts via their website on Mondays.  So welcome Hereford Zone readers!

Maywood is the property on which we live, bought by John’s grandfather in 1940.  The name is derived from his grandfather’s name, Maynard, and his father’s name, Markwood, but captures the beauty of this place in the spring when dogwoods and tulip poplars bloom and fragrance the air with an aroma I’ve found nowhere else.  It is the family homestead.  John spent his boyhood summers here (often sent off with his sister by his grandmother to locate the non-existent Indian caves!).  He proposed to me here.  Two of our three daughters had summer weddings here.  And now our five year old grandson zips along on a little John Deere tractor just like PopPop. 

This is my favorite time of year at Maywood.  We’ve gone from being a lonely winter outpost overlooking 83 to our own little Brigadoon, surrounded by trees and tucked away from the world.   The world still roars by, especially at night if the windows are open, but during waking hours birds often outchirp the traffic.  Today the blooming wild dogwoods surround the house, the azaleas blaze a border around the porch, lilacs perfume the kitchen, and lilies of the valley run rampant out front.  Four hives of honeybees zip and zoom through it all, gathering the ample pollen, and hopefully making lots of honey.  Spinach and lettuces emerge in the potager, getting ready to join chives, parsley, and wild violet in a salad. 

Daylilies are leafing everywhere, already mocking me for my delay in dividing them.  Garlic chives, lemon balm, and fennel have reseeded with irresponsibly reckless abandon all over the herb garden.  Chipmunks have burrowed the entire Paris metro system under the yard, destroying any hostas that get in their way.  Carpenter bees dive bomb me when I venture outside and armies of ants are planning their assault on the kitchen.  But I’m hopeful.  In spring I feel like I can conquer the Wild America in my backyard.  But if I can’t conquer it, I can at least write about the battles.  I might even win some.