During the early days of March, the Pacific tree frog choir begins tuning up for the upcoming mating season. When they begin their calling song, I know that winter is losing its grasp on the weather as the little green creatures sound in the spring. When I first moved into my home many years ago, it was early March. The frogs were so loud; it prompted me to name my place “Frog Holler”.
My greenhouse stands outside my kitchen window. When I first built it, I had to run an extension cord to it to keep a fan circulating the air. Back then, I heated my home with a wood stove most of the time and with a window cracked open for air exchange between the two structures. In the fall, when I brought my tender plants into the greenhouse to winter over, a little, green Pacific tree frog piggybacked in with the plants. One night he made his presence known, and when he sang out, I jumped in surprise. The big sound was amazing, and the little guy’s chirps reverberated through the kitchen and family room. I followed the sound until I found him inside, perched on the sill above the sink, singing for a mate. Back then, there was no screen up in the window between the greenhouse and the kitchen. Many nights I would shoo the little, lovelorn creature back out to the greenhouse, where he would continue his frog calls for hours into the night and early morning.
Unfortunately, no green beauty ever answered his call that winter. Eventually, the greenhouse was wired for electricity and I put the screen back up in the window, but I missed the little frog’s visit to my kitchen. I imagine he escaped outside one mild winter day when I opened the greenhouse door to fill the structure with fresh air.
As my neighborhood grew up with more houses being built around me, many trees disappeared and expanses of desert lawns took their place. I’ve done the reverse, and planted more trees and shrubs, taking out all the lawn from my front garden. I’ve added two ponds and a few water features to my place. The frogs adapted to a new habitat of less lawn, more native plants, and trees and shrubs to hide under or climb. There always seems to be one frog character that stands out every year. I still smile when I think about the humor in seeing a tree frog resting comfortably on top of a toad lily leaf. One summer, another character made his resting place above the casing of my front door. The guard frog was there every day—I imagined he kept many flies and mosquitoes from entering my abode.
A fellow gardener once chided me for naming my small patch of land—Frog Holler. Apparently, the name wasn’t urbane enough for this man’s citified tastes. He suggested I name it the French word for garden—“Jardin”. To him it had an exotic, sophisticated ring to it. Except of course if you are French, then it would be like calling your place “Garden”. He didn’t convince me, even though Grenouille (French for Frog) Jardin was fun to pronounce—gren-ou-eeeee jjj-ar-din. However, most people wouldn’t know what I was talking about back here in English-speaking-land. More importantly, his suggestion lacked the flavor of that first spring in a new home and learning to cohabitate with the local resident creatures. So, the garden retained its name “Frog Holler”. It fits this country garden filled with charming tree frogs, and suits me, for I am a country girl at heart.