12 June finds me on Highway 553 north of Massey, Ontario, painting a marsh in evening light through the open window of the van, with mosquito repellant smeared on my face and hands and an insect coil burning beside me. The sun is to my right, not quite set, glowing on the tops of the maples on the near hillside. A dead spruce or tamarack stretches its long bare fingers across the sky, and others in the marsh are also dead, spaced about like the standing skeletons of gnomes.
We've driven up this well-maintained gravel road north of Massey, probing the northern range limit of the Tetraploid Gray Treefrog which has been one of our projects since the 1970's.
A small chorus of s Spring Peepers strikes up with gusto every 15 minutes or so. Fred brings me a salad of the tender parts of cattail stems, chopped up with hummus for dressing, but although my stomach is ready for supper I can't stop to eat until I lose the daylight for painting - which happens at 21:53. Yellowthroat and Yellow Warbler make their last songs of the day and we hear a few rolls of drumming from a Ruffed Grouse in the forest that borders the marsh.
As we pack up to leave a Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor) calls from a distance, and we hear two Whippoorwills marking their territories with song. There are lots of Whippoorwills up here, a bird that is becoming more and more scarce to the south. As we drive back down the hilly, winding road toward Massey, stopping to listen for Hyla versicolor at each wetland, we hear more Whippoorwills, and once had to stop for a Nighthawk which was resting on the road in the headlights.