June: The Amazing, enticing & Fascinatingly Weird Sights & Sounds from the Endless Mountains

June, the month that straddles the summer solstice, is in the rear-view mirror. Summer has hit us with a vengeance. Before I lay the powerful and magical month of June to rest, though, I’d like to share some of my favorite memories. There’ll be no weddings or graduations here; this is about the awesome natural world that surrounds and sustains us here in Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains.

Baby squirrels peering out of duck house high above Hill's pond: photo by Rich Hill.
“No, you go first,” says one of the baby squirrels peering out of the duck house high above Hills’ pond: photo by Rich Hill.

The Beginnings

These three fawns were born east of Hills' house on 5/28/19. They are so young, they can barely stand up, and their Mom had to stand downhill from them, so they could reach her to nurse: photo by Rich Hill.

As May was coming to an end, we were inundated with rain, much like we had been for over a year. Everyone who had outside work to do had long since grown bone-wearingly sick of it. Then, one day at the end of May, Rich spotted a doe with her newborn fawn. The next day, another deer Mama showed up with … triplets? Even in this little rural patch of Pennsylvania where the deer are at least a third again bigger than those around the Philadelphia area where we used to live, that’s super rare.

As I write, I am happy to say that she still has all three of them, though I fear Rich’s new photos won’t be in my possession in time for this post.

Amphibians: Endangered Species? Maybe not Here

One of the best things about our seventeen acres of heaven is the pond. I think it’s a half acre, but don’t quote me on that. Anyway, instead of dumping that blue dyed stuff that costs a fortune into it to curb the algae, we gave that job to the carp family. Koi, comets and minnows keep it clean for us. We love to feed them in the spring.

We have a pond shelter, which Rich designed and built prior to neuro Lyme disease. From the outside, it looks like a gingerbread house – Navaho red with a steep white roof and an arched door with a scalloped arch above it. When you go in, however, you quickly realize that the whole thing is more of an open porch. There’s a gorgeous Victorian balustrade facing the water with a set of wind chimes in the center. Along the side wall is a cupboard for fish food. Doves nest in the rafters.

Pin Cherries bloom by Navaho-red shelter with steep white roof & arched door by Rich Hill

The shelter, which you can see on my WordPress homepage, was built into a hill above the pond. It’s floor, therefore, is only resting upon a few supports. When you stomp your feet on it, it booms and groans, echoing across the pond. Pretty soon, the fish show up in droves, including our remaining four adult koi, who are two feet long and brilliantly colored.

Frogs, Frogs, and the secret, Sexy World of the American Toad!

Most of the frogs bury themselves in the mud at the bottom of the pond in the fall and wait for warmer weather. Other amphibians, including the American toad and the tiny spring peepers migrate from the woods. The peepers show up in March and herald the arrival of the season of amphibians with their high-pitched and extremely loud peeps. Then, a couple large and very old bullfrogs start with their slow, deep and measured comments on the situation.

An American toad with his neck swollen up is singing his haunting song: photo by Rich Hill.
An American toad with his neck swollen up is singing his haunting song: photo by Rich Hill.

The American toads sing a haunting song that sounds to me like a flying saucer, or someone trying to hum and whistle at the same time. Toads come to the pond to find love, and their ritual is wonderful. They gather in the pond, treading water and talking to one another. Though some are always doing their haunting song, others speak in a far quieter voice that I can only describe as sweet jabbering.

The toad tadpoles go through their miraculous transformation in the pond. One day, when they have left their tadpole bodies – with the gills that enabled them to breathe under water – behind, they will migrate en masse up the banks through the grass and into the woods. Our neighbor’s pond is uphill from us. Their toads come down to our driveway, where they are dangerously visible. Rich says the grass waves as they hop away.

After the Toads

Bullfrog at Hills’ pond in Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains: photo by Rich Hill.

After the toads, the pond begins to swell with a chorus of bullfrogs. They all must get their two cents in. Then, they fall silent until one of the members of this assembly thinks of something else to say. Within two weeks, those old bullfrogs, who started so quietly, have had enough of the youngsters. They pack up and leave. We hear them at our neighbor’s pond, and we can report that we’ve noticed this peculiar behavior for years.

Green and the less common leopard frogs begin to participate in the discussion, and then the gray tree frogs weigh in. I love to walk down to the shelter around midnight and listen to them singing, jumping after bugs and minnows and issuing forth with an occasional burp. Rich says that the frogs sit very still, and when they leap for something, it is so fast that you can’t see it.

If we walk around the pond, we will hear them leaping into the water from their hiding places among the reeds. The green frogs give a distinct, high-pitched warning to their fellows about the potential danger we bring.

Audio Player: Green, Leopard & Bullfrogs

Audio Player: Hills Pond at Midnight in Early June

About Donna W. Hill

Donna W. Hill is a writer, speaker, animal lover and avid knitter from Pennsylvania's Endless Mountains. Her first novel, The Heart of Applebutter Hill, is an adventure-mystery with excursions into fantasy for general audiences. Professionals in the fields of education and the arts have endorsed it as a diversity, inclusion and anti-bullying resource for junior high through college. A songwriter with three albums, Hill provided educational and motivational programs in the Greater Philadelphia area for fifteen years before moving to the mountains. Her essay, "Satori Green" appears in Richard Singer's Now, Embracing the Present Moment (2010, O-Books), and her cancer-survivor story is in Dawn Colclasure’s On the Wings of Pink Angels (2012). From 2009 through 2013, Hill was an online journalist for numerous publications, covering topics ranging from nature, health care and accessibility to music, knitting and chocolate. She is an experienced talk show guest and guest blogger and presents workshops about writing and her novel for school, university, community and business groups. The Heart of Applebutter Hill is available in print and e-versions at Amazon, B&N, Apple, Sony, Smashwords, Create Space and other outlets. It is also available through Bookshare for readers with print disabilities.
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25 Responses to June: The Amazing, enticing & Fascinatingly Weird Sights & Sounds from the Endless Mountains

  1. Patty says:

    What a lovely post. Why, it was almost like being there. Such vivid descriptions, rich with color and sound. And, what a lovely touch having the recording. A post for the favorites to be sure.
    Donna you’re a wondrous writer, able to bring forth your experience in a magnificent way.
    Happy summer to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Patty, glad you enjoyed the writing and the recordings. We love our frogs. It’s like a convention out there, with them gathered around the pond, grumbling and huffing like a bunch of old politicians.

      Like

      • Patty says:

        I thought it was wonderful.

        I get what you mean about like a convention.

        When Campbell and I go down the street there’s this one house where several dogs live. When we pass Campbell stops to chat and they all gather at the fence. It gets rather loud with all of them trying to talk at once. Then just when you think your head will explode with all their yammering, King Campbell stands on his toes, lets out one! Huge! Bark! And silence comes on as a crashing wave.

        Cracks me up.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Patty, too funny. It reminds me of my first guide dog, Simba. He took his work very seriously. If a dog was behind us yammering to get his attention, he would turn his head without breaking stride and growl a low menacing rebuke and that would be that.

          Like

          • Patty says:

            Well, that reminds me of one day while I was still in training with Campbell.

            The girl I was partnered with had a dog who had been a kennel mate of Campbell’s. They were, to put it mildly smitten with one another. Even though there was no mating going on the two obviously loved one another very much. So, one day my trainer had me and Campbell leading out, and the girl behind me was having trouble with her dog. My trainer had her correct the dog and Campbell stopped dead in his tracks, turned almost all the way around, and gave my trainer the filthiest look he could possibly muster. I believe he’d have growled at him had he felt he could get by with it.

            Like

          • What a gentleman he is. My Hunter had a girlfriend too. She was a Labradoodle (yellow), and the two of them could not pass in the halls or anywhere else without schnoozling each other. She went to Brazil, so that put an end to that.

            Like

          • Patty says:

            Ah!

            I remember this one dog who Campbell had been in the kennel with. For some reason they rubbed one another’s fur the wrong way and one evening as I started in the lounge for lecture they passed each other and Campbell began the most horrid volley of barking I ever heard from him.

            Needless to say I corrected him and then my trainer corrected me. I wanted to bark too. LOL.

            Back to frogs a moment, this posting about frogs reminds me of when my daughter was about 4 or so years old. She had a wading pool and one afternoon we came outside after nap for some play time and there swimming round in the pool was a tiny frog. My daughter kept that thing for three days. It stayed there in the pool with no complaint what so ever. Then one morning we came out to find it had hopped away.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Patty says:

    Reblogged this on Campbells World and commented:
    I’d like to invite all to read and enjoy this post.
    Make certain to click over to enjoy every word.
    There’s a surprise waiting in the pond for you to be sure, and sounds like you can’t imagine.
    Thanks Donna for a lovely visit in your world.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Carole A. Bryan says:

    Donna, I cannot begin to express how much I enjoyed this post. Frogs and toads are much a part of my childhood memories. The added sounds at the end were delightful and brought a smile to my face. We have frogs and toads here in Florida of course, however it has been many years since I have heard the unmistakable sound of a bullfrog!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. dgkaye says:

    Beautifully evoked summer post Donna. The landscape is beautiful 🙂 x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Debby, thank you. That’s our little bit of heaven.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Patty says:

      Hello and thanks so much for reading and commenting.

      I have to say I felt this was indeed one of my favorite posts thus far this month.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Hi Patty, thanks. It’s funny. I thought about what I wanted to include, but I actually put the whole thing together in one afternoon. I usually work on things over multiple sessions, spanning weeks, months and even years.

        Like

        • Patty says:

          Hi Donna. I’m that way with manuscripts for books, but blogging for me usually comes together if I allow myself to be spontaneous.

          One of the things I like about blogging is the real time aspect.

          However, no two of us approach things in the same way.

          Either case, this is a great post and I hope you write more like it soon.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Thanks, Patty. I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with my tech problems – oh God, forgive me for saying that, I’m not trying to tempt the Fates – so, I hope that will help.

            Like

          • Patty says:

            What was that? Didn’t hear you say a thing. Shhh. We won’t tell anyone.

            I’ve got some tech help coming in a week or two and though it’s going to leave me without a computer for a day or two it will be worth it when it’s done.

            VR/Blind Services has a tech center in Knoxville which is about 2 hours from me, and someone from the office in Johnson City which is just the next town over is going to pick it up and take it down for me and bring it back when they’re done.

            Don’t have that situated as to when yet but at least I know they’re going to do it and I won’t be charged.

            Looks like we’re both going to make it after all.

            Liked by 1 person

  5. Patty, I had to reinstall Office 365 because of Outlook issues. It’s working better, but now I have two of just about every email. At least I know how to delete. *grin*

    Like

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