Deep summer, and the nights, even here on breezy Toad Hill, have been sweaty and twisted-sheet-sleepless. The green frogs in our pond love it. They twang away through the dark. I have finally figured out what they are singing. It is a slowed down version of The Camptown Racetrack played disjointedly: The Camptown . . . racetrack’s . . . five miles . . . long doo . . . dah . . . doo . . . dah . . . the Camp . . . town la . . . dies sing this . . . song . . . oh . . . the doo dah . . . day . . . Just like the Camptown ladies, those darned green frogs are gonna to sing all night! Every now and then, a bullfrog thrums, but most of them are so deeply into their jug-o-rum by this hour that they are nearly comatose.
Heat and humidity, thy name is frog. They seem to be moving around these days, perhaps freed up to travel a bit with the air so moist and no fear of their skin drying out. I found a young green frog in one of the horse sheds the other day and was surprised by a bull frog in the garden at the end of the lettuce row. Perhaps he was going a-courting one of the mice that live under the straw mulch? Last evening, the sparse grass under the maple trees in our back yard was alive with the tiniest possible toadlings, just out from the pond and jerkily faring forth. We had to watch our feet as we stepped.
Charlie the rooster crows twice and I turn to look at the clock. 4:38. "Shut the hell up!" he crows. Why does he say that? He’s the one making the noise? The rest of Toad Hill is pretty silent. I am in some sort of half-sleep now, mind rambling. I hear the light lapping of Goldie stealing a forbidden drink from my water glass and the guilty thump as she jumps down from the bed when I roll over. Usually I keep a coaster over my glass as I really don’t like to share my water with a cat. It doesn’t seem like I am sleeping now, but I must be, because when I try my strategy for falling back to sleep, reciting The Walrus and the Carpenter, I keep forgetting where I am and don’t get past “and then they rested on a rock convieniently low . . .” If I am seriously wakeful at night I go through The Ballad of Sam McGee, The Pines,The Road Song of the Bandar Log, and perhaps, Gunga Din—at which point it is probably better to just switch on my Itty Bitty Book Light and read. Maybe it’s time to learn a new poem? Maybe some Gerard Manley Hopkins? Hopkins? The frogs are getting to me!
Our there, a song sparrow now sings briefly, perhaps the one who likes to perch on a dead branch of the old white lilac to pipe up his bit of music. Charlie is quiet for a half hour before crowing again. At least the chickens are down in the new garden in their “chicken tractor,” a moveable, bottomless cage, where they have been feasting on clover all summer. His crowing is blessedly muted by the distance. An indigo bunting sings wheezy double notes and then at five o’clock precisely, an entire chorus of robins breaks forth. The earth has revolved and now we will have light. A crow caws. Going to my desk now, I open the door to gather in the morning song. An oven bird. Really? So close to the house? Thank you.