Spring is Peeping

Today is the day I first heard the singing of those small frogs known as spring peepers.  As I ride westward from Vienna along the W&OD, hearing the slightly elevated noise level of spring birds staking out territory (the cardinals, robins, mourning doves, and mocking birds being the most notable {no pun}), I barely notice the distant clamor.

Then as it gets louder a couple of mental reflexes kick in and slip into place: “there must be a big flock of starlings around,” “it’s almost March 1,” “spring peepers!!”  The volume seems to jump up instantly when I get right beside the swampy places where they live.  It embraces me in its intensity; I am riding through air made thick with sound waves.  As I reach the fringe of spring peeper territory the volume drops as abruptly as it rose.  One minute I am in the sound-dense air, the next instant silence descends.  Then I await the next and larger colony in the marshes farther out along Difficult Run, and get a longer sound wave bath.

And now it’s over, until I come back from the ride out to the Trail bridge over Route 28 in Sterling, at the far side of which I turn around.  Then I get the whole thing again, in reverse, with even more volume brought on by air temperature that has risen from about 46° to 53°.

Crocus, Spring 2012

First crocus at Academy Street, spring 2012

This is the earliest I have ever heard these little frogs sing, though not by much.  The mild winter overall, and yesterday’s 64° air, must have sent the right signals.  Just as I have never seen the early-blooming daffodils all out, or the crocuses in full bloom, on this, the last day of “normal February”—we get a leap year day tomorrow before March begins.  But those frogs better enjoy their mud while they’ve got it.  The winter has been warm but also dry, and we’ll be talking about drought soon if we don’t get a real dousing of April showers.

© Arnold J. Bradford, 2012.

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