It is 6:15 pm. I sit on the ground, hidden amid dried reeds beside a pond, looking out at the still water. The vegetation swallows me and the camouflage jacket across my legs aids in my intended disappearance. Before my arrival, a chorus of American Toads filled the evening with song. I know if I sit long enough they will forget my presence and carry on.
In the distance, the mountains of western North Carolina decorate the horizon, just as the sun decorates the cloud-filled sky. I am here for the second time in one day, hoping for a glimpse of the otter family that I suspect lives in the hole in the muddy bank. Earlier today as I explored this site and the large meadow beyond. I found several piles of fresh scat loaded with fish scales, lots of tramped-down plants, mud flats with eaten freshwater clam shells and a tunnel disappearing into the ground halfway along the oval shaped pond. These signs TELL me otters have been here! Now I just have to wait and be patient.
The toads have indeed forgotten me and though they are loud enough to drown out all other sounds, it is surprising how few I can see. Most call from beneath the overhanging vegetation, preferring the natural roof to the open sky where I sit. Interesting how when I was here this morning they were much more bold, calling from several feet out where I had plenty of chances to photograph them. Now they are invisible.
Though I would love to see some larger animal, like an otter or fox, I am content to watch the changing light, be serenaded by the toads and do nothing. In our hurry-up lives, many of us never make time for this. I have always enjoyed this rare pleasure, fully aware of its power to rejuvenate me.
The sun has been swallowed by the mountains and a breeze now blows across the grasses. The otter must have had other plans, not wanting to make an appearance here this evening. It’s okay, I will return another day, many more days in fact. One day I might get lucky. And if I don’t, well that’s okay too, as there are plenty of other reasons to keep returning.
Here are a few “gems” from my day: