March 27, 2021

A peep in the night

 What do you hear when you step outside after dark? Just yesterday I was thinking about the tiny peeper frogs that herald the arrival of spring and, lo and behold, last night I heard them singing for the first time in 2021. I think they are perhaps two or so weeks early, but I'm sure they know they're really right on time.

In the country, the sounds change with the seasons. Summer brings the sounds of noisy insects like cicadas and katydids, and the eerie bark of foxes. Autumn is the time when the little screech owls make their presence known as their calls join the rustling leaves. Winter’s sound is that of the cold wind whipping through the trees.  
And spring brings the chirping song of the tiny peeper frog.

It’s amazing such a tiny creature can create such a riotous cacophony of sound. They begin to sing as soon as whatever signal brings them out of their winter hibernation. One night, if you’re lucky, you’ll hear one or two crystal voices. Pause to enjoy it because the next time you hear the peepers, the sound will fill the night with such a din that identifying an individual voice is impossible.

In all my years I’ve not seen one of the nocturnal peepers. I don’t guess I ever will since I don’t plan to go out into the woods at night to locate their colony. (I'll leave that to the folks who took the picture.) But every year I step outside and listen because when the peepers sing, I know it is truly spring.

I dread the day I fear is coming when the peepers are no more. Our amphibians are threatened by the damage to and the shrinking of their habitat. We may be fortunate and become one of the few remaining enclaves for the peepers, salamanders, frogs, toads, and even the local reptile, the turtle. 

The night sounds are truly one of my favorite simple country pleasures. Nighttime in the country reveals, even as it conceals, a hidden kingdom. Long may it reign. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor

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