Frogs!

From the sounds of it, there are a million frogs in our yard. When you add the million frogs from our yard to their amphibian friends and relatives in neighboring yards, fields, pastures, parks, playgrounds, etc., you realize that there must be a mind-boggling number of frogs in Marathon County. Or perhaps there aren’t actually that many frogs in Marathon County. Perhaps their numbers seem so mighty only because the volume of their peeping is so mighty, relative to the silent lack of typical human busy-ness.

Today marks the 41st placidly un-busy day of our social distancing. The 40 days are o’er, but the resurrection of a return to pre-pandemic “normalcy” has not yet happened. That event is tentatively set to occur in another 29 days, on the 26th of May. We shall see what transpires.

In the meantime, we wait; we watch the rain; we read; we pray; we write; we bike; we watch TV; we cook; we marvel at how well my hammered dulcimer is holding tune, in spite of the fact that it receives very little attention from me; we clean house; we study; we do laundry; we delight in receiving letters from friends; we think about turning off the boilers, wondering if there is more to this process than simply flipping a switch in the heart of the basement?

And we listen to frogs: sweet, cheerful, lovely, loud frogs!

I’m not sure what time frogs go to bed, but I once woke in the early hours of the morning – about 3:30, perhaps? – and heard no frogs. Maybe frogs nap at 3:30 am. Maybe frogs also nap in the daylight hours, but I’m not sure. I don’t recall having heard frogs until nightfall, but perhaps this is simply because the “busy-ness” of bright daylight “drowns out” the peeping of the frogs, as the until-recently “busy-ness” of human activity muted that same peeping, making it seem less mighty and significant than it seems right now.

As I’ve written today’s entry, I’ve become oddly obsessed with knowing more about the daily schedule of the average frog. Fortunately, I’m drafting on my computer, so that I could easily interrupt my writing to Google “are frogs nocturnal?” (The things you don’t know – or knew, but forgot – or knew, but never really thought about knowing – until an embarrassingly late stage in life…)

My Google search brought up a Fun Facts About Spring Peepers article from the online version of the Farmers’ Almanac. While the article did not offer a straightforward yes / no answer to my question about frogs’ sleep schedules, it did pose the question of whether or not spring peepers are the only frogs that sing all night long. The author’s choice of words suggests that frogs are, indeed, nocturnal. And so I discovered the answer to my question, albeit in a roundabout way.

I also discovered an array of fascinating frog facts. For example, certain types of frogs – including our peeping spring peeper friends –  can put themselves into a sort of cryogenic sleep when the temperature starts to drop consistently below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Essentially, they freeze themselves for the winter and thaw themselves out in spring. (I seem to remember having known this at some point. But I had apparently forgotten this tidbit of information, along with my knowledge of whether or not frogs are nocturnal.)

Having discovered (or re-discovered) this fascinating fact about frozen frogs, I moved on through the article to discover a passage that seemed particularly striking, in light of the current situation in which we humans find ourselves: “Scientists still aren’t sure how frozen frogs can wake up again, but once they thaw out and wake up, most frogs will go through a period of healing before they resume their normal lives.” – Amber Kanuckel, Fun Facts About Spring Peepers, 2020 Online Farmers’ Almanac, https://www.farmersalmanac.com/facts-about-spring-peepers-24077, retrieved April 27, 2020.

“Most frogs will go through a period of healing before they resume their normal lives.”

What a gentle, lovely, and ultimately sensible thought – these sweet little frogs take time to heal between thawing out from their time of frozen-ness and returning to the everyday business of filling the night with cheerful, comforting song.

We humans are in a bit of a cryogenic pause right now, much like the frozen frogs of winter’s days. Will we take time to heal before returning to the busy-ness of our thawed-out days? Will we be able to take time for healing before returning to “normal”? What will “normal” look like? What will healing look like? Has some of the healing already begun? Do we sometimes mix up the concepts of “time for healing” and “time for normalcy”?

Such mighty questions provoked by such a mighty chorus of thoroughly sensible and wise frogs!

Deo Gratias!