It’s the last day of their visit. We count tree frogs—5 or 6 in the area out our front door, on leaves, on ivy, huddled under the petals of a Casablanca lily. There was no spawn in the old bathtub turned into a pool but we’ve decided there must be a depression under the house where these ones grew this summer. (There are some damp areas and perhaps water collected over the winter.)
This is a good place to be a child. I keep overhearing my son talking to his older son and I am taken back nearly 40 years to similar conversations. Conversations arising from books read (including Charlotte’s Web), songs sung. An hour ago:
A: Look, Daddy, a beautiful spider web! But there’s no writing.
F: Maybe that spider can’t write.
A: Maybe it just doesn’t have a creature to save. It can write but it doesn’t need to.
I heard them down in the bush, looking for a good cedar for A. to climb while his little brother naps. But as our climate changes, many of the younger cedars near the house are dying. The big ones are healthy and established but there are no low limbs for a boy to swing on. Still, I heard them talking, anticipating a walk to Francis Point and hopefully (if the tide is right) a last plunge in the sea before we have supper at the local pub. A small bowl has been set on a low table for the frogs, a few stones arranged in it for basking, and water carefully poured in by a boy kneeling on the table, his body so like his father’s at that age that I have to turn away. Tiny frogs climb the ivy leaves and we hope they’ll find their water.
Nothing can be inferred
from the forecasts
are ignoring their ladders
—from W.G. Sebald’s “Barometer Reading”
Where do the years go? Somewhere beautiful and green, scented with cedar drying in summer heat, spangled with sunlight.