Toads About and Moths Redeemed

Warning, toads on the porch may seem larger than they appear. This handsome, warty fellow is the plain old Eastern American Toad (Bufo americanus americanus), apparently in his "red" phase. Very patriotic fellow, both in name and color. And the stripe, frankly.

Here he adopts an attack posture. OK, OK, so he sat there while I took a dozen pictures, and only moved when I got up after I was done. Damn vain amphibians.

All my slanderous, libelous comments about moths must be retracted. During the last week, we've been sent some of Vermont's finest, most beautiful Heterocerids. The fact that this Harnessed Tiger Moth (Apantesis phalerata) appears to be trying to get into the house will be ignored in light of its pattern. Looks like a toy, almost.

I want to know how two moths of the same kind find each other. There must be dozens and dozens of species flitting about the lamp each night or hiding from the rain in the awning. How do they know which other moth in the melee is compatible? I tell you, finding a match is hard enough when you can talk; you still learn to hold on really tight. I am thankful we do not have to find each other in a storm of colors and smells and bats quite like moths do.

I was absolutely struck by this tiny guy hiding from the rain as I was reaching for the door handle the other day. I didn't know moths did beautiful colors, and I still don't understand what purpose they serve.

This guy is a Rosy Maple Moth (Dryocampa rubicunda). I had already given the file the name "rosymoth.jpg" before I even identified him. Johan Christian Fabricius identified this guy in 1793 (well, probably not this particular moth), and he clearly has good taste in moth names.

Thanks to my dad for identifying these guys for me, and for helping to retroactively identify some of the moths from earlier journal entries.

Last night, David Huddle, my "Contemporary American Short Stories" professor read some of his poems to a rather large, rather rapt audience in the Barn. When it let out, we headed over to the Treman house porch for a little bit of libation and conversation, and I decided to photograph the last glimmer of the setting sun, rather than the pink and gold symphony that had gone on a few minutes before. I know the camera failed, but don't they always fail? I thought, though, it captured just enough of the color and the sense that it was all fading away, and that was certainly what was important about the moment.

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Woodland Creatures and the Coming Apocalypse

Talk about cute. Though I'm not sure exactly what he came down the tree to pick up and eat (and my imagination, as it turns out, has a sick mind), he certainly was adorable, nibbling away at whatever it was.

After my moth diatribe the other day, I'm unsure where to classify this one. I got very invested in the idea that these moths were sick creatures spawned from the fall of heaven's brightest angel, but now I'm not so sure, since this one inspires rosier thoughts.

My dad helped identify this guy as a One-eyed Sphinx Moth (Smerinthus cerisyi).

Well, rosy thoughts aside, this evening's weather clearly makes them harbingers of the apocalypse.

As the sun was setting, a series of thunderstorms was gathering across the state. At the time of the pictures, they were building to the east of us (pictured here), and to the north.

It's quite a bit of fun to stand outside and watch tall cumulus clouds pile into one another, especially when the sun is setting behind you and coloring the building clouds orange while leaving the ones above you gray.

I'm not sure which stormcloud to our north looks worse, the darker one or the suspiciously tall one.

This is yet another opportune moment to point out that I'm studying concepts of the sublime in Romantic Poetry. Most of the writers we're studying see sublimity as related to the awesome powers of nature as well as at moments of danger or fear. Thus, the thunderstorm becomes the perfect image.

I, however, was doing laundry.

I'm not sure if it was the storm or simply the falling evening, but these spring peepers (Pseudacris crucifer) were calling so loudly that I almost couldn't find this little guy. First of all, the sound is pretty hard to triangulate, but when you get within a few feet, it becomes near impossible, as the sound rings painfully in both ears.

The scientific name is really fascinating. "Pseudacris" frogs are the chorus or singing frogs. The name comes from the greek for "false locust," presumably since they sound something like crickets. The "crucifer" comes from the cross-like camouflage on their backs (not clear in either of the pictures).

For those of you tempted to tell me this is a wood frog because of the dark markings around the eyes, trust me, this isn't the first time I've had my exposed skin shredded by mosquitos as I carefully identified an amphibian.

Oddly enough, it really isn't.

Sorry that the flash gave the frogs devil eyes. I tried to use the red-eye tool on them, and then I tried to reconstruct the eyes in Photoshop, but I only got far more terrifying frog-demons.

Time to cower inside as the sky grumbles like an irate diner patron. If tornadoes and meteors ravage western Vermont tonight, know that I love you and frogs too.

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