Huddled in a parka I am gazing out at a cold, howling blowing whiteness that was only yesterday a greening expanse of bog and woods where whole armies of spring peepers made a racket as if their very lives depended on it. I thought it might be a bit early for all that procreating, but just in case it wasn’t I went looking for a frog, or at least the evidence that one had done the deed of laying eggs in a vernal pool.
Only last year I learned really about how it is with frogs and vernal pools, and about what makes vernal pools, well, vernal, which you can read about in my post of April 28, 2015. I stalked them assiduously to watch the nurseries hatch, trying to catch tadpoles with my lens in increasingly murky pools. Pretty interesting little essay with pics, if I say so myself.
So this year I knew to go back to the vernal pools where I’d taken portraits last year except that it got a little cold and there were no frogs. But before they’d shut up and dived down into the mud I’d recorded some of that love song, so tantalizingly familiar a sentinel of spring much like the running of the sap.
Every year, I am overcome by the wonder of the peepers and I rush outside to hear and even manage to sit still for minutes on end to listen, but that’s not enough so I mark the call of the spring in the garden journal and walk outside again obsessively recording, without any skill whatsoever, trying to pin down the most peeperest of peeper sounds for eternity. I don’t think I have ever seen one. But they sing loudly to attract females and when a lady doth respond they speed up and intensify to get her to commit, which in turn spurs on nearby males to compete and sing louder in a spiraling crescendo that must sound and feel to a frog like standing on a dance floor full of gyrating teenagers while Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin are crooning Je t’aime out of 50 not-quite-synchronized speakers at full volume.
And now it is dipping down to 10 degrees Fahrenheit and like a worried mother hen I am reading that peepers hibernate and can survive freezing their bodily fluids down to minus 10 Celsius which is 14F, fourteen degrees Fahrenheit. I hope that all those little would-be Lotharios found a place to dive deeply enough into the murk to keep their gonads warm enough to do the egg and sperm thing when it gets warmer again.
Which brings me back to how I went looking for a frog or evidence of frogs and did not find any whilst poking around but did hear plenty and managed to find a whole camera full of wet spring beauty.