email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


You know how sometimes you want to write, but can't think of what to write about?  Me too.  That's why sometimes I go on about something badly and then delete it a day later.

So I sat down a few minutes ago and decided to just scribble out some things going on around me, the house, and the yard.  I hit a dozen immediately!  Some days are like that.

1.  Frogs
2.  Mosquitoes
3.  Crocuses
4.  Deer Ate Shrub
5.  Car Battery
6.  Snowblower Snow Wouldn't Melt
7.  Enclosed Garden
8.  Tomato Grafting
9.  Dad
10. Smoking/Not Smoking
11. Covered Plant Rack
12. Wine

So, how about "frogs"?  Now, I generally LIKE frogs.  None of them around here are poisonous, they eat mostly bad insects, they are impressively weird, and they mostly don't bother me.

Except Spring Peepers.  For a month each year around now, they all start a "chirping contest".  And since there are wetlands across the street (used to be a full-fledged swamp) they are a biblical multitude!  10,000 chirping Spring Peepers can be distracting.  The chirps are of a sound frequency that comes right through windows and walls.  Well, no wonder at THAT, they evolved their sound to penetrate woodsy swamps. 

I can live with that; there are so many of them that the sound is constant.  Its the 5 or so of them that find my small 4'x6' lily pond that drive me NUTS!  The pond is only 20' from my bedroom window, and with only a few of them, the chirping comes and goes.  I can't sleep when they chirp randomly.

It was so bad when I worked, that I would sometimes have to go out at night, find the little devils with a flashlight, and stomp on them just to get some sleep.  And its not like I didn't try passive frog-friendly ideas first.  I put acoustical ceiling tiles covering the inside of my bedroom window.  It didn't work!  Well, it helped some, but not enough.

Even after retirement, when I can sleep later to make up for the disturbance, it is still aggravating.  The past 5 years, I have covered the pond with loose-woven garden cloth.  That works.  If they can't get to the water, they can't mate, so they don't chirp.

I usually notice them first as I go to bed and it is really too late to do the covering thing that night.  But this year, today, I caught them in the act.  It was suddenly very warm today (75F at 4 PM), s I had some windows open.  It was nice and quiet. 

Until...  At precisely 5:30 PM, I heard a chirp in the wetland.  And 2 seconds later, I heard 10,000!!!  They ALL started immediately when the very first one did.  I was astonished.  At least I have tomorrow to cover the pond.  The pond doesn't seem to warm up as fast as the open wetland do, so there is a lag.

Tomorrow, I will take out the garden cloth and cover the pond and ruin the mating possibilities of the several Spring Peepers who chose my pond as their "Dream Seduction Site".  Well, they are either the dumbest Spring Peepers and deserve not to mate, or they are the smartest Spring Peepers (choosing a less-competitive location) and just had the bad luck to annoy ME!  Either way, I doubt I am affecting the long-term survival of Spring Peepers...

And if I am?  Well, MY sleep comes first.  Being Top Of The Food Chain has its benefits.

Topics 2-12 to come later, maybe in no particular order, and interrupted by new topics as they come to mind.


Ellen in Oregon said...

I feel your pain. The most reliable sign that Spring has arrived is the annual frog fest that kicked-off last week at the pond I live across the street from. It started as soon as the daytime temp. went past the 60 degree mark. The chorus of Spring peepers suddenly drowns out all other sounds. I'm a pretty sound sleeper having lived in the city for many years & next store to a fire station for a decade, but once I focus on those thousands of frogs chirping & cheeping racket, I wake up several times a night despite tightly closed windows and drapes over them. The sound seems to permeate every solid object between the frogs & my ears.
I always notice when the peeping begins, but oddly enough, I never take note of the day it finally stops.
Now, I probably don't sound like I am on a friendly basis with frogs, but as a kid I spent many a Summer day, around the ages of 8 & 9, down at the neighborhood swamp, complete with quicksand. I would hurry down the hill carrying a big red bucket & return home a few hours later with a bucket full of hand picked bullfrogs. I actually had a reason for hunting down frogs & that was to train the best jumper I could find & enter it in the Annual Mark Twain bull frog race that is held each year somewhere in the South that I can no longer recall. Strangely, my potential winners that I had placed so carefully in the garage with a lid covering the bucket, would always have disappeared by morning.
Despite my past experience with frogs, I am not at all an admirer of the incessant noise these Spring peepers make to mark the arrival of Spring mating season. Between the noise & the time change my sleep is out of whack. I will be going out tomorrow to buy a package of ear plugs. That's my plan to outsmart the frogs. Please let us know how your plan works out. I wish I could borrow your idea, but the pond here is about a quarter mile in diameter & would be a bit tricky to cover the large pond & what would I do about the whole estuary system that feeds into the pond and miles of surrounding wetlands? When I lie down in my bed tonight, after I curse the relentless singing, I will feel a bit better knowing that 3,200 miles away, you too are being forced to listen to the same incessant din of trilling cheaps & churps wafting through the Spring air. At least the frogs are much more reliable than any old groundhogs when it comes to knowing when Spring has arrived. I'll let you know if the ear plugs work.

Megan said...

Hey guys - come to Sydney, where the cicadas (the loudest insects in the world) 'sing' all day at 120 decibels. We've just survived a bumper summer.

And, like Ellen, I admit to not noticing the day that they stop. How weird is that?

Mark - I've been wondering about your father and his health. I'd be interested to hear how he's going. And topic #6: "Snowblower snow wouldn't melt"? Sounds intriguing. Do tell!

Sydney, Australia