Spring appears to be well and truly sprung here on the prairie, and that in multiple ways. The birds have returned, of course, and temperatures are coming up to a reliable level that precludes the need for much more than a sweatshirt or light jacket. And it's raining.
Oh yes, it's been raining.
Yesterday we had temperatures in the mid 50's with clear skies and sunshine, and I broke out my bike for a 14-ish mile ride. When the spring weather presents with a day that is:
A) Warm enough for a comfortable ride; 2) Still enough to make the ride a workout without being torture; and iii) Not raining
...You have to jump on the opportunity.
Contrary to what people sometimes picture, the prairie isn't truly flat - this isn't Nebraska, after all - there are real contours to the land that can be seen from any vantage point, and can absolutely be felt when one is on a bicycle. But while this is true, it's flat enough that periods of heavy rain do result in opportunistic ponds and lakes forming in the fields, and one comes to realize why the ditches alongside the road are so deep out here.
Something I did not realize, however, is that these ponds, which are called Vernal Pools (tip of the hat to Midwestern Plant Girl at midwesternplants.org) also serve as homes for some species of frogs. But I realized as I was doing a late-night dog outing last night that I was hearing frogs out in the middle distance. We are a good mile and a half from the nearest creek (or "crick"), and while we can sometimes hear the bullfrogs on a still night, that seems more a late spring or summer phenomenon.
It's a nice reminder of the variety of wildlife around us out here. Because we are surrounded with agriculture, it can become easy to feel that there isn't any truly wild space around us (hence my fascination with the area in and around Melugin Grove). But there are periodic reminders beyond the raccoons that we are surrounded in wildlife, some of it of a much more pleasant variety.