Everyday we walk to what I call “the last waterhole.” It’s located in the southwestern borderlands just inside the property line and is the last permanent hole of water on the place. Unlike many days, even when surrounded by mounds of snow, today there were no water bugs skittering around on the surface. And I saw no movement in the depths. There’d been silver tadpoles and a giant black tadpole that would quickly hide when my shadow fell over the water. I fleetingly saw something dark and longer. Perhaps it was a newt. Or just another absurdly plump black pollywog. I know to not trust my brain.
When the tadpoles disappear, I wonder if raccoons made meals of them. A week ago I saw a better answer. In the snow next to the water was a single large bird footprint. I’m thinking heron. I should have taken a photo because the next day it had melted away.
Right now the waterhole is full and overflowing with the snow melt and because of the constant feeding of springs, it never freezes. Still, it’s quite small: twelve feet long, five feet at the widest and only 14 inches deep. In dry times, the waterhole will shrink somewhat and there’ll be no visible inflow or outflow. It’ll do all of its business underground like much of this intermittent stream.