Up here on the mountain, for those of us hailing from Christian roots, we are in Lent, one of those thin times during which we are graciously vulnerable to visitations from the invisible world of the soul and the sacred. These come to us in forms both marvelous and astonishing.

A freak storm dumped a foot of snow on our mountain two days ago, and the patches of white that remain after the onslaught of the March sun make it seem even more wondrous that the wood frogs were mating last week. Biologists tell us that these are common, pinkish-brown frogs (rana sylvatica) that grow to be about three inches long and live widely in the forests of North America. What they won't say is that these tiny beings appear and disappear at will, when together put forth a sound like a host of coughing banshees, make the still waters of ephemeral pools suddenly boil like a cauldron of sorcerer's brew, and then vanish in an instant, leaving the surface like shimmering glass and the air deeply silent.

This is what happened as I walked out toward the Meditation Shelter one day. Behind their house, Bob and Jackie have made a small pond. The spot is hidden and has an air of mystery. Standing near the reflective beauty of the water, one realizes that it is no wonder that pools and wells are sacred in many ancient traditions and that the water element, the cradle and sustainer of life, is used to bless and heal. But this day, I was headed elsewhere, until I heard an eerie racket emanating from the vicinity of the pond. Ravens caucasing? Dry bones rising? I approached, and saw from about 10 feet away, the pond water rolling and frothing, embroiled in its own mini tempest. I took three steps closer and then, as if an invisible hand had abruptly dropped a veil over the scene, all was still. The pond returned to its looking glass state and was profoundly quiet.

I froze for what seemed like a short eternity. Nothing moved except the occasional water skimmer delicately dancing from leaf to stick. No sound except a distant chattering squirrel, an intermittent birdsong. Perhaps, then, I glimpsed a small brown back just under the water surface; then perhaps another. I slowly backed away, turned, and walked on my way.

Wood frogs, it seems, are shy creatures, and don't cotton to intruders amid their sacred rituals. In early spring, they awake from under leaves, stones, logs where they have lain frozen all winter, and travel to "ephemeral" pools and ponds. There the males call in chorus to their mates and passion ensues. Most wood frogs breed only once in their lifetimes; after their one wild and precious dance, the female lays her eggs nestled near water plants and slightly submerged logs. Then she and her lover are gone, back to the budding forest from whence they came.

At community supper last night, Bob confirmed that the wood frogs had indeed been mating. He reported that the pond was full of thousands upon thousands of eggs, massed in gleaming clusters under the water's surface.

We had another visitation during the snow storm, which we also remarked on at supper. Not wood frogs, but red-wing blackbirds, hundreds of them, descending out of the white scrim to alight on feeders, porches and snow laden branches. En masse, they whirled and landed, then rose in a great cloud of black bodies and wings and rushed like a wind to settle in the trees, where they were brilliantly dark presences against the tangle of white branches. They stayed maybe a few hours, as the snow fell and fell, and then they too were gone. We haven't seen them since.

Last week, when community supper was at my house, we read a little prayer by Will Ashe Bacon that begins:

It's up to us
to re-enchant this planet Earth

We are the elves and giants
we are the shining ones
daughters of the Moon
and sons of the Sun

We are the shapeshifters
we are the mysterious light
shrouded in mists at
the dawn of our time
and it's up to us to re-enchant
this living planet Earth ...

Perhaps it is up to us to reclaim ourselves as children of the Moon and Sun and Earth, but it seems to me that when it comes to re-enchanting, we have plenty of help from the marvelous, mysterious, sacred, magical, wondrous creatures who appear in our ponds and alight on our porches and then disappear again. In their brief visitations they bring news of the other than human worlds, the invisible worlds that are the numinous thresholds of the divine. Thanks to them, and to being in this thin place, in this thin time, a walk in the woods or a late winter snow storm becomes an open window on enchantment.