Most of us cannot wait until the warmer weather arrives, there is so much to look forward to: watching for signs of new growth, going outside wearing fewer layers, and hearing the peepers. The peepers are a sure sign things are about to change – for the better!
Also called the Spring Peeper – Pseudacris crucifer for all you Latin buffs out there! – is a tiny tree frog that lives in low-lying wetlands and ponds, and the chorus of chirping males claiming territory and professing their love – usually in late March – signifies spring is on its way. It is one of those magical Spring moments, just like hearing certain birds for the first time in the season; seeing a robin on the lawn, or the crocuses pushing up and peeking through receding snow and warming soil. The Peeper’s song lets you know the season truly has changed.
But not this year I’m afraid. The ice is still melting on our pond and with the recent snow storm still visible on the fields, I think we will not hear them anytime soon. Click here to listen to the sweet peepings – it will give you hope!
Male Spring Peepers sing to find a mate and tell other males; “Shove off!”We are fortunate to live on the Oak Ridges Moraine, a protected area of rolling hills and valleys stretching from the Niagara Escarpment to Rice Lake. Last year my neighbors, Ralph and Jean – who own just over 200 acres of protected land to the south of South Pond – and I, started an exploration of the Moraine called Seasons on the Moraine. Through this eight-session series, we explore the nature of the Oak Ridges Moraine as the seasons unfold, with an expert naturalist. Hungry and full of new discoveries, we return to the farm an outdoor lunch. It’s one of my favorite events, combining learning and walking with delicious food.
Earth Day 2018 falls on April 22nd, and, while making our coming season’s plans last winter, we thought what better way to celebrate and honour Mother Earth than by beginning our summer Moraine series with Night Sounds. Little did we know we would still be deep in snow, cold, and a whipping wind at the end of April!
Night Sounds is an opportunity for guests to join the amphibian chorus as thousands of vociferous frogs and trilling toads fill the evening air with their saber rattling and love calls. The pond and wetlands come alive as these marvelous creatures, having spent the winter under a blanket of snow on the forest floor, break their silence and herald spring. Owls, too, have their nocturnal voices, as they hoot, hiss, and cackle in the woods. In the field or on the trail, if we are watchful and fortunate, and listen for the insect-like buzzing of the male woodcock, we may even witness his sky dance courtship flight.
Early spring arrival, the dogtooth violet, AKA, trout lily, has sweet, edible leavesLast year Night Sounds was one of those magical spring events that really did feel like the beginning of the season. A group of us went off into the forest listening and looking for life and spots of emerging green. We returned to a warming fire just as the sun was setting in a brilliant display of colour – a beautiful way to cap a perfect day.
I feel intimately connected in so many ways to these guided Moraine walks; I’m not just passing through the forest, but listening, watching, feeling growth and wild things all around me. It makes one pause to listen, to be still, and to explore nature. I have lived on the farm now for 12 years and I continue to learn many things about the wildlife – flora and fauna – all around me from purposeful walks with guides, experts who have spent, in many cases, their lives studying nature.
Still, despite the howling winds and scant sunlight our seedlings flourish in the greenhouse, and the swans have been back and forth to the pond – I’m sure they’re building a nest. I look at the weather prognosis every day and hope to see signs that the season has shifted. But our fires are still burning in the cookstove. Our group will go into the forest and listen closely for whatever life might reveal itself, even if the forest floor is still frozen and crunching beneath our boots.
Despite all our pleas, we don’t have any control over what Mother Nature gives us.
We love her anyway.
Seasons on the Moraine are not-for-profit events. They are held in collaboration with our neighbours on lands protected by the Kawartha Land Trust. They are led by local experts drawn largely from the Kawartha and the Peterborough Field Naturalists. Our next Seasons on the Moraine is SongBird Sighting and will be held on May 12. Visit www.southpondfarms.ca/events/ for more information.
About Danielle French
I founded South Pond Farms in 2008. The property is on the Oak Ridges Moraine in the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe Mississauga. South Pond started as a small food delivery business making fresh prepared meals from ingredients in my garden. Together with my family, we restored the barn, the iconic heritage silo and the land to become a destination for authentic culinary experiences, weddings, celebrations, workshops. Inspired from the farm, I also create a line of culinary products and gifts.
In 2021, I was ready to move away from the farm. As much as I loved the land and the country, it was time to let someone else bring their passion to what we had created. My new home is in Peterborough, Ontario where I’m taking some time to write, contemplate next steps, train my dogs, blog about recipes and interesting explorations and unpack!