vendredi 9 mars 2012

First frog, and a foal for Zenyatta

First frog of the spring

The sun lit the slats in the metal shutters of my bedroom window with the brightness and intensity that announces a beautiful morning, encouragement to get out of bed, in spite of the aches and the pains from yesterday's labors in the garden. It has been 3 years since the last time I pruned the linden trees down to the ham-fisted main branches, and so it was time to do them again, lest the linden trees overtake us and leave us in the dark. I did one in the morning, and the other in the afternoon, going up and down my wooden ladder and wielding a 3-ton 45-inch chainsaw at arm's length.

I now have two very large stacks of 3 to 4 meter long branches of which to dispose, and I need to find someone who can come and feed them into a wood chipper for a modest fee.

Come summer, there will be a whole new crop of wand-like branches growing from the bumps at the end of each solid branch, sending forth a dense canopy of large leaves.

Taking note of my bruised state, little didn't hurt, I rolled gingerly out of bed and made my way, stiffly, to the coffee machine, but the lure of the warm March sunshine was too strong, and I got the fish food instead and headed out to feed the fish and see how nature had been faring since my first exploration and photography session earlier this week, after I had lifted finally the soggy mat of linden leaves off the planting beds, prying them gently from the fresh green spears of the new tulip and hyacinth leaves to expose everything that the warming soil was sending up for another round of the eternal display of nature's simple glory. 

These are the days when you can feel the activity in the soil and the leaves, the energy unfurling progressively more vegetable matter, the chloroform machine working at full tilt, catching the sun's rays and radiating the purest, most joyful green from the effort. I hum right along with the plants and the blades of grass of my garden and all of nature beyond; I began my day brimming with energy and enthusiasm. 

I bent down and called the fish over for breakfast, waiting for the one large female I know is principally responsible for the healthy growth in population since the devastation wreaked by some cracks in the converted fountain's low walls and a sudden, terrible freeze one January, when the water level was too low killed dozens of fish, leaving 4 miraculous survivors. 

She eats first, and she and everyone else know it. She swims right up to my outstretched pinched thumb and forefinger, a koi stick presented to her, and we struggle to get it in her puckering mouth. Some mornings we get it on the first try;  other times, she's either too hungry or too overexcited to get it on anything like the first try, and we nearly give up, but that would be sending a poor message, and so I never admit defeat. She will get it or no one will eat, which is out of the question. 

This morning she was a little late arriving, and my attention drifted off to the others, swimming about in front of me, others heading across from under the old stone sink where they have their hide-away, and which has served as the favorite spot for the frogs, who have come to make the fountain-turned-fish pond their home. She caught me by surprise, suddenly there in front of me when I lowered my gaze again, and ate her koi stick on the third try. I turned the container, sprinkled a generous serving for everyone else, and watched it float out from the center. I love the "fish pond". 

Yesterday, a neighbor's little girls discovered it; I told them there were frogs, too, but they were still asleep, down in the sediment from the decomposed leaves that fall into it and the aquatic plants. They asked when the frogs would wake up, and I said soon. Perhaps in a couple more weeks of this warm early spring sun. They are not like the other neighbor's children, little boys, who run around the fountain and stick their arms in, pulling on the plants. They nodded and returned to watching the fish swim about, and I had a feeling that soon was maybe sooner than I had said; it was the right weather for the frogs to wake up.

Squatting next to the fish breakfast party, I saw movement over near the mossy edge of the stone sink. It didn't move like a fish; the plant leaves disappeared below the water and surfaced again along with the head and large, globular eyes of the first frog of the spring. As if the day did not promise enough wonderful things, with the aubrietta in flower on the tall wall behind the gazebo, the transcandentia sending up its first purple-edge leaf swords, and both the biathlon and the nordic-combined world championships on television, the frogs had woken up.

I said hello, quietly, and asked it please not to move while I went for my camera. They take fright easily, some eventually learning to relax around us, others never failing to dive into the water directly I or anyone passes by them. He, or she, granted my wish, for a moment. In another second, he had ducked back into his watery place to hide, and I went off to see what was sprouting in the garden.

Now, it was time for my coffee and my morning email, Twitter and Facebook correspondence, and to upload my photos and consider a blog post. My old laptop takes its sweet time to boot, time to check the day's events on Eurosport, and when the first Tweets scrolled past, there was news of Zenyatta. She had given birth! A dark-bay colt, the spitting image of his lovely mother. 

As if the day needed another miracle to remind me of how beautiful life is. Sweet, intelligent and wondrously gifted and large-spirited Zenyatta, The Queen, had given birth to her foal with Bernardini, just hours ahead of her due date, under a full Kentucky moon, and her fans were rejoicing a new hope, another racing phenomenon to love and admire and cheer on, born of the intermingling of proud parents' proven genes. 

For now, it was quiet in her box, a mother kissing her long-legged, gangly, adorable newborn child, full of the promise of his family history, everyone who loves and cares for her daily at Lane's End Farm nearby to witness another legend opening its next chapter, and the season of foaling beginning with the greening and unfurling of the grasses.

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