There is in the annals of nature photography a famous image of a frog eating a frog eating a frog. Cannibals all. Voracious appetites. What does that say about anything? About the creatures of the earth and air and water?
This morning the puppy was startled by a large bird. A great barn owl in a tree overlooking the driveway. I have never heard its call, have only seen it once before, yet today it was there studying the excess of frogs in the water and in the mud. A far larger predator, yet more circumspect.
An exceptionally good year for mice. Their burrows dot the mulch around the foundation and in past years varicolored grass snakes kept them to a minimum. The last grass snake I found was an impressive length and rather than docilely sliding away, it struck out with the manic speed and force of a hooded cobra. That was a year ago and I’m ashamed to say I killed it, dispatched it quickly with a shovel, but it was over four feet long and my dog at that time was quite enthusiastic and he had already been bitten once, a nasty bite that became infected, so I did what I thought was necessary. Had that snake eaten all the others? Upsetting the balance perhaps. Am I the largest predator or merely an intruder in their midst?
We are all animals of the water, of the air, of the earth, and we share it in unsettling ways. But what of the fire, that which destroys, that which cleanses?
There is on the property a twisted, blackened cherry tree, a modernistic sculptural thing. Lightening-struck it stands in a small field where lupine grow and deer used to browse. This spring shoots poked through the soil around the charred bark, and the shoots gave off small petalled blossoms. Now that summer is upon us, tent caterpillars have digested the young leaves and built huge saggy nests, as is their custom.
The amphibians will eat the caterpillars that fall to the earth, and the birds will eat those that crawl on the branches and the owl will watch. An overseer, yet she herself remains unseen.
A tiny frog clings to the glass of my window as I write this. He has become a creature of the air, robbing the spider’s web of tiny flying moths. The spider is gone. Perhaps the frog has eaten her as well.
There may be deeper meaning here, but there is also the basic truth of the matter. Beauty is only as we choose to see it.
(Obviously this should have been posted some months ago, but then I’ve never been particularly concerned with time…)
Causes Mara Buck Supports
Kennebec Valley Humane Society, Amnesty International