On a crisp autumn evening in my backyard, I hear a gray treefrog’s slow musical trill. A reply sounds from the planter on our deck. The air is cool, dry, and leafy.
I often see treefrogs when they are green and nestled on a hosta leaf. Still, they adapt to their surroundings and turn a mottled gray when I spy them snugged along a wall of our cedar planters or tucked into the spout of our watering pitcher. At night, they climb up our deck doors with their white bellies and large toepads smooshed against the glass.
The croaks echo and ebb. I hear the call despite the cricket hum and automobile buzz from the nearby highway. The small treefrogs will soon go quiet and seek refuge under leaf litter, rocks, or logs where they will partially freeze during the long winter months.
Tonight, I lie tucked in my sleeping bag beneath a yellow down comforter. In a tent. On my balcony. I gaze at the night sky open above me. With no rain forecasted, I left off the rainfly. The mesh screen of the tent disappears within the dark night, and it feels like there is nothing between me and the singing treefrogs. Without my glasses on, the stars are fuzzy lint on the blanket of sky.
I inhale deep the cool autumn air. I exhale what I hope is non-viral breath.
On the other side of the glass door, my husband Mike sleeps. Our air purifier, usually reserved for when spring allergies flare, runs full blast extracting any COVID virus Mike breathes out.
This night as I wait for my test results, I opt to tent rather than crash on our couch, possibly contaminating the indoor air around my kids, who also wait for results. I don’t miss the electrical hum of the refrigerator, fan, clocks, computers, and dishwasher.
Warm and snug outdoors in my sleeping bag, I close my eyes and listen to the crabapple leaves fall from the tree and skitter down the sides of my tent. I hear a barred owl hoot. Squirrels who chatter during the day are silent in their nests. I hear wind rustling thin branches and always the chirm of crickets.
I breathe, and I breathe. The gray treefrog trills. I fall slowly, calmly, deeply into sleep.
Editor’s Note: This is the first installment of Nature nearby, a monthly column by Eden Prairie resident Amber Stoner.
This is how Stoner describes her column: “(It) focuses on personal, daily and specific experiences outdoors around Eden Prairie. We have so much nature right here in our own yards, neighborhoods, and parks. What critters and plants are outside my front door and around my block? How can we develop a relationship with and knowledge about the community of plants and animals we live among in Eden Prairie? What can grow in our yards and in our hearts when we pay attention to nature nearby?”