Thursday, March 19, 2009
Last night a warm rain fell in heavy drops. I opened the window to hear the rain fall and the hiss as lonely cars on wet pavement passing in the night. I listened for peepers but there were none.
"Too early," I thought. "Another day or two."
But as I lay in bed listening to the wet night deepen, I heard one, soft and distant. Then another, closer this time, called out. Like reluctant dancers taking the floor, more joined in until they joyful cheers of a massing amphibian crowd came in through my open window.
The peepers, no larger than the little finger on a child's hand, are champions at the serenade. Roused by the first warm rain of spring, they emerge from where they hunkered from November to now wedged in the tiny gaps and crevices that can preserve a small life. They freeze with the snow and ice but their tiny bodies survive even the coldest nights. Due to some magic of evolution that permits their cells to endure the killing cold they begin to stir, unfolding their bodies each spring to sing and sing into the heart of summer.
They sing for a female. So that he might be one of many to fertilize her expanse of gelatinous eggs laid in a quiet pool by the road or in a dark corner of a distant field. The summer's hot sun will shrink the pool to nothing by August but that is more than enough time for the eggs to hatch into tadpoles and, then, join their parents as frogs in the deep forest.
Even though that warm rain turned cold and dusted the cone of Equinox with a mantle of white, spring is here.
The peepers say so.