Perspective: Praise The Peepers

Apr 2, 2019

Let us now praise….spring peepers!

The chorus of these late March miracles rises from the vernal pool in the froggy bottomland near home. Did you even know your neighborhood had a vernal pool to raise its value? Wet in springtime, dry in summer, vernal pools are the mating waters of spring peepers, who emerge from their treebark coffins after first thaw & frogwalk toward water. Once moist they erupt, piercing cold March air with their choir — boy do they! — part sleighbell, part warble, part toadcarole. Their evensong is lovesong of course, the best sort. Frozen solid these long months their sap now runs free and neither can they contain their ruckus. Could you? Praise them.

Just try to find one. Take your girl down to the poolshore by the railbed to spy her a chorusfrog. Creep all you want, once near, the peepers cease, those thousands of swolethroats silenced and disappeared! To spy a peeper, you have to pretend not to look. One day find one eyeballing you midpane your kitchen window. Another day find two suctioncupping this very keyboard, their back Xs glistening. Praise them.

You tried to sing, but never could. Is that why they enamor you? Your voice croaked, and the choircoach cringed. Please, he said, just mouth the words, and so you did, and still do. Now they serenade you from the traintrack, and it’s too good to be true. Praise them.

It takes a poet. Lorine Niedecker, Wisconsin’s best, praised them better than you ever might. From her Blackhawk Island cabin, she sang, Get a load of April’s fabulous frog rattle. Lowland freightcars in the night.

I’m Chris Fink, and this is the chorus.

Thanks to Wikimedia Commons for the Spring Peeper audio.