I bet most, if not all of you, have played in a puddle at one time in your life. I am still attracted to them at my age. It is part inner child and part naturalist that still makes me look closely at puddles. Puddles after all, are just micro-watering holes. When I saw my first New Mexican puddle I immediately went closer to read the signs, there were small fresh and dried rodent droppings there, and I saw that even this puddle, that was quickly drying out, was an important factor in the lives of small creatures. This tiny patch of water stood out from all the dryness of the area, this image came from the lava field of the Petroglyph Park we visited. Now this black lava created a lot more heat, and it was the hottest I felt on the whole trip. The bowl of the stone caught enough rain to create a small place that is now a drinking spot, but I knew it would not last long in the heat. But it has mostly likely appeared enough times that creatures know where to get a drink after a rain storm, in a land where water does not sit very long at all. Yes, the photo was taken just for the puddle. When I got home, it was apparent that we had rain while I was gone, and it has rained each day since I got back, so I went out and took a photo of one of my puddles. We have over the years tried to build the soil up on this spot with rock and dirt, but the puddle won't give up. Of course the horses help by walking here and stomping down the earth with each step, so the horses help keep the puddle alive and growing. This puddle is where the Barn Swallows and Robins gather mud for their nests. This is where the Mud Dabber Wasp gathers the very wet mud to make its nest. Frogs use this puddle to stay moist and to catch the insects that are attracted to the sitting water. The chickens and free range rabbits see this puddle as their water bowls. The mud has many tracks that tell a little story to those who stop and look. I have seen Mink tracks in the mud surrounding my puddle, they too stop to drink or try and catch a frog. It was fascinating to see my first puddle in New Mexico, it was wonderful to come home and see one of mine again. The really interesting thing is, both puddles do the same thing, they attract attention for the same reason, they are both just tiny watering holes that supports life. Stop and look at a puddle some time, let that inner child come out, and appreciate this natural tiny microcosm of life.
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