Tue 31 Mar 2009
The sun is out, the grass is greening up, and little bright spots of purple and yellow crocuses dot the landscape.
It’s enough to make one believe once again in things like reliably warm breezes and tulips. Roses, even.
But here’s the thing: the peepers are still silent. And that means that at any moment the sun could go behind the clouds, and by morning there could be an entire foot of snow on the ground. Believe me: I’ve seen this happen.
Winter can’t be fully gone until the peepers declare it so. Peepers are little New England-y frogs who hang out in the little swamps and ditches at the sides of roads, and they sound like a combination of car alarm and horror movie soundtrack. If you were watching a movie with peepers making noises in it, you would just know that the murderer was IN THE HOUSE and about to jump out from behind the curtains and stab the woman who is innocently making a cup of tea, and you would get tense about it.
But for some reason, some great cosmic joke perhaps, these prehistoric-sounding things seem to be in charge of announcing that there is no longer any danger of ice and snow. Apparently it is the peepers who get the first memo from the earth that all that winter stuff is gone. People around here believe that once you have heard the peepers, you can safely put away the snow shovel and get out the garden hoe.
This brings to mind SO many questions.
WHY is it the peepers who are given this info, and not, say, the bobcats or the squirrels–or, hey, here’s an idea–how about the HUMAN BEINGS? Especially those who work at the National Weather Service. THEY might like to know when all danger of freezing is past.
And: do the peepers ever get it wrong? Has it ever happened that this ALL CLEAR memo is given to them by mistake? Or that the lead peeper misreads it and announces that it’s time to get out there and start peeping and three days later an unexpected nor’easter comes barreling through?
And if that ever were to happen, would that spell the end of peepers until next year…or maybe even forever? Would their soft amphibian little bodies turn to ice and then they wouldn’t be able to make new peepers? Is this something that we need to worry about?
I would miss their crazy soundtrack of spring, the way it feels to walk out onto the screened porch on an early spring night and hear them barking and croaking and calling out in what I imagine must be pure, unadulterated joy, SPRING IS HERE! THE WORLD HAS COME BACK TO LIFE!
It is, after all, their one job, and they can’t help it that they were given the voice of a police siren to accomplish it. They do what they can.