Walking with My Camera: Frogs and Spring Views

(Columbia Spotted Frog in a puddle on the irrigation ditch road)


We had over an inch of rain in the last twenty-four hours – with more falling  as I write. (

The steady sounds of the water falling from the sky reminded me of living in Southeast Alaska when I was young. In the last week I had another memory connection to Alaska through three frogs I saw on my walks here in Western Montana. Their population has declined so I felt fortunate and happy to see these amphibians.

I lived in Petersburg, Alaska, from age nine months to ten years old. The place we lived before my family moved back to Montana was up on the muskeg, a spongy, wet, mossy bog with lots of ponds where I grew to love frogs. My brothers and sister and I would squish around on the muskeg observing and playing with frogs in their many stages of life.  I remember the way their bellies felt so smooth and soft and how the bumpy top part of their bodies felt so alien yet compelling to touch.

We collected frog eggs and tried to sell them. I remember standing in our garage with plastic buckets of eggs. I knew the miracle of the potential held in the dark centers of the round clear orbs in the gelatinous masses and I couldn’t understand why no one bought them. These eggs could turn into pollywogs!  Some of the pollywogs grew 2-3” long, they were huge. You could watch their tiny legs and arms emerge as they grew. Those little black dots could turn into frogs. It was amazing!  We made signs “frog eggs for sale” but no one bought any eggs. We took them back to the ponds.

Along with moments of childhood fear―when I would I have a fleeting gut-wrench peering into the dark deep of the ocean―there were also tingling leaps of excitement―when my dad would stop our boat to watch a pulsing giant Lion’s Mane jellyfish (Lion’s Mane bell shapes can reach over 6 feet in size and tentacles can reach over 100 feet). Awe and fear were always close. There was a place in Duncan Canal called Harvey’s Lake where we would swim and picnic. After getting there by boat we walked on a plank trail through the trees to get to the lake and we always saw lots of tiny toads on the path. Hiking through the rain forest on the sometimes-slippery boards and mud, knowing we would get to see the tiny toads, felt special. Their limbs seemed so delicate and yet I knew their persistent hardiness. It was good to feel life as special, delicate and hardy.

I catch hold of some similar inner experiences on my walks. Since my last field note there are new colors in the woods, the red and yellow-green of Paintbrush and the blue-purple of Lupine.

The volume of water coming through the headgate allowing some of the spring runoff to continue to the Jocko River and some to flow in the irrigation ditch, provides translucent and turbulent views in the later evening light.

Here’s another view from my facebook page:

Lately Jordy the Samoyed has been with me on my walks.