In my last blog I mentioned that I had a vernal pool in my backyard and someone questioned what that is. I didn’t really learn what a vernal pool was until I had lived here for about 20 years. I just knew it as our tiny pond that came and went.
We call our vernal pool “THE SWAMP”. The best thing about it, is in the spring it provides us with “pinkletinks”. Actually there is only one place in the world that calls them pinkletinks and that is Martha’s Vineyard, and of course my sister and I. What I am referring to are the little spring peepers, tiny tree frogs, that make a glorious, extremely loud peeping sound for a few months in the spring. It is actually their mating call.
In our house, every spring we take bets on which day we will hear the first spring peeper. At the sound of the first one I always call my sister so she can go out on her deck and listen (she lives one street over). It usually happens somewhere between March 22 and March 28th. Before my daughter moved back home I would call her too and bring the phone outside so she could hear.
You hear the first one, usually after a warmer day in spring. One lonely sound, maybe two and within a few days the sounds expand and you hear hundreds maybe thousands. Each female lays about 900 eggs. To me it’s like music and one of the first harbingers of spring. I get excited now, just thinking about it. It really is the small things in life that make it worth while.
The technical definition from Wikipedia for a vernal pool is this:
A vernal pool is:
“a seasonal body of standing water that typically forms in the spring from melting snow and other runoff, dries out completely in the hotter months of summer, and often refills in the autumn. Vernal pools range from broad, heavily vegetated lowland bodies to smaller, isolated upland bodies with little permanent vegetation. They are free of fish and provide important breeding habitat for many terrestrial or semiaquatic species such as frogs, salamanders, and turtles.”
We called it the Swamp because I was convinced when the kids were small that it contained quicksand and it would surely suck down my kids. It sounded better than “Hey kids, don’t go near the vernal pool” I hoped that threatening them with swamp and quicksand would keep them away from it.
Once, when the kids were little, our dog chased a squirrel into the swamp and he couldn’t get out of the muddy quagmire. My husband had to jump in to save the dog and had a tough time getting himself out carrying our large English Setter. I could only envision that happening to the kids.
I threatened them with 30 minutes in the corner if they ever went near it. None of this Super Nanny one minute for every year of their age. They got 30 minutes if they went near “THE SWAMP”.My daughter never went near it and she would squeal on her brother if he went within ten feet of it so I felt almost safe about it.
The swamp contained various other animals including a muskrat, bullfrogs, mosquitoes by the millions, birds and probably the skunk that sprayed me because they like to munch on baby spring peepers.
My children and all their little visiting friends survived the Swamp and so did I. I would have wished it away if it weren’t for the sound of the pinkletinks in the spring. We also get ducks in it in the spring. A few times they have nested there and had their babies which was fun.
Who knew I could go on this long about vernal pools.