I’ve formed a bond with a gray tree frog this summer. The first meeting was on the deck while I enjoyed my morning coffee. I noticed its head sticking out of the wren nesting box that sits at eye level on the edge of the deck. The frog faced due east as if to greet the rising sun. This ashen blotchy frog was an adult rather than a bright green juvenile.

I know there are several tree frogs that hang out around our deck because at dusk I often hear their musical trills. In my opinion, their song is the most melodious of all local frogs.  

I was inspired to write a few lines of poetry. I decided to allow no more than two minutes to write a few lines. No editing or revisions. I found the following:

This house is mine. All mine!
No wren wants it 
but to me it’s sublime.

From my lounging perch, 
I watch sipping humans with hands
wrapped around a mug like a prayer in church.

And me on my pulpit of divine!

The next morning, I returned to the deck and was delighted to find the frog in the bird house waiting for the warmth of the sun. Being amphibians, their body temperature is the same as their surroundings rather than a constant like our 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

Since we were acquaintances, I decided to name the frog. I landed on the genus of tree frogs: Hyla. It’s easy to say and is gender neutral.

I placed a black-eyed Susan flower on the tiny ledge outside the birdhouse entry only a couple inches from the expressionless frog. Did Hyla even care about my gift?

Minutes later a small fly hovered in front of the flower and in a flash Hyla’s tongue rocketed out and the fly became breakfast! I hurried in for a scrap of paper and pencil to scratch out a second two-minute poem: 

Ethologist Konrad Lorenz called it “holistic contemplation.”
I set the prairie bloom on the step, not for decor,
but for pollinating insect temptation.

With the patience of Buddha 
the tree frog practiced being.
A bug buzzed in, a tongue flashed and all was gooda.

On the third morning, I stole a glance from inside the house through the deck window for my little friend. Nothing. Really?

I opened the door for a better look. As it swung, I felt something brush my head. I thought it was the lilac branch that is starting to bend over the deck. But the feeling was not a gentle stroke as much as it was a plop. I looked at my feet and there was a sprawled Hyla, legs and toes extended on the deck. 

I had obviously disturbed the frog from its narrow hideout between the top of the door and the door jamb.

Tree frogs use their sticky toes to gain nocturnal hunting perches on glass windows and doors. Attracted to the indoor lights, nighttime insects will hover or sit on the exterior of the glass, making easy pickings for the frogs.

There was no Hyla on the fourth day . In fact each following day was made more lonely as I sipped my coffee.

A week later, I was pleased to find Hyla sitting at the entrance of the wren house. I ached to have a human-to-amphibian chat. I would have asked, “Where did you go? A pilgrimage? Chasing the opposite sex? An escape from . . . me?”

Then there was another series of days without a Hyla spotting.

Until the other night when Miss Nancy and I were relaxing on the deck, reading aloud. I was seated only a couple feet from the wren house.

I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye. Turning my head I met the wide-eyed gaze of Hyla who had just poked out of the wren house. The frog bore the sagacious look of an ancient philosopher as it tilted its head towards me. It was as if the frog was shifting to better listen to Scott Russel Sanders’ thoughts on stewardship of natural systems. 

I could swear Hyla tipped its head in agreement.

Note: None of these photographs have been digitally altered. Hyla is not shy.

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