I learned a long time ago frogs do make wonderful watchdogs and motion sensors. Rather than sounding the alarm like a watchdog it is their silence that warns you.
Stepping outside at 4 am was the best way to decide how warm I was going to dress for the day. The early morning was cool and fresh. The frogs had been out for several weeks as summer emerged and their talk was comforting in this isolated place. Irrigation canals and the still wet creek on either side of the house offered these nighttime watchdogs safe haven.
Staring into the heavens, a moonless night graced my eyes with a million stars. Living far away from the city lights does have its benefits. I was so enraptured with the stars that it took a second for me to realize that the frog’s symphony around the back of the house had ceased. I listened and could hear them farther down the road but not close by.
I froze wondering why my frogs had become silent. Could it be a coyote or wild dog? On more than one occasion in the last few weeks I had heard what sounded like a mauling feast of screaming dogs, too high pitched to be anything but coyotes. Coyotes were more afraid of me than I am of them, so nothing to worry about there. Wild strays had been known to frequent the area but they were anything but quiet when passing through and not yet known to be vicious.
My ears strained, frozen on the porch where I stood, hoping my watch frogs would begin to chatter again but nothing. Several moments passed before the next option took form. It could be one of the farm hands. They parked behind the back fence regularly; maybe they had arrived before I woke and were just stirring back there. The morning was black with no lights in the house on to give away my position. I stood in silence pondering if perhaps a opossum was crossing somewhere near the back of the house.
For a second my heart stopped wondering who or what had just rustled the tall grass on this still morning. It came from the eastside of the house. I waited in anticipation. I could still hear the frogs in the distance but the silence was deafening waiting for my frog symphony to sound out safety.
A few steps closer it moved and again, then silence. I jumped as something rubbed across my bare leg. “Oh, it is you!” I exclaimed breaking the silence. I bent down and rubbed the back of Henry, my cat.