In the middle of a Wisconsin summer, there are things that happen that you might not know about. I didn’t know about them, when I spent my childhood on the lake. The lake is home lot of creatures, large and small, varying makes and models that rely on its depth and others on its shore. When I was younger a large snapping turtle would find its way from Harris Creek and onto the public beach. Children would shriek and lifeguards would spring, and after some time the turtle would be coaxed back to its swampy playground and the beach would return to the swimmers. Today, you may see a turtle in the lake. But you won’t see very many frogs.
That’s because the frogs are all at my house. There’s a far corner of my land that finds itself sometimes swampy and sometimes lakey. When you see a farm field with some standing water, assume my corner is a lake. And when that field is dry, assume my corner is only a marsh. In the very early spring, before a flower has bloomed and a blade of grass has been cut, this corner is alive with percussion. On the warmest of early spring days, the frogs of my yard crawl from this corner soup and chirp. Others bellow. They’re looking for mates, presumably, or just calling out to celebrate the crawl from that soggy, cold soil, who could say?
When that day has come and the frogs return, the symphony only grows. In May, when the flowers bloom and the corner floods from those rains, the refrain echoes louder still. At night, we’ll sleep with the windows open to hear the song. It’s a nice song, though some with a past that involved unpleasant frog experiences may find it horrifying. I, on the other hand, enjoy it. Soon enough, when May turns to June, the choir retires. There is less joy in that corner, less celebration. That’s when the frogs of the corner are overtaken by the frogs in the yard.
No one can be sure, certainly not me, whether or not these are the same frogs. I suppose I could research the subject, but my interest does not run that deep. The lawn frogs are small, very small, and they number into the thousands. Mow my lawn, you’re welcome to it, and you’ll see the frogs bounding away from the mower deck. At times, I stop to let the frogs pass, but after some time of this pausing and pushing and swerving I let the blade follow its line, frogs or not. It pains me to knowingly run over these small frogs, since I am a lover of all life, excepting mosquitos and whatever animal killed the last of my wife’s six chickens overnight, but I have a schedule to keep and there are more than enough frogs. In fact, each week the lawn mowing pulls back the lawn frog population but each following week the population rebounds with a vengeance. Without the weekly purge, we may be overrun.
There’s another sort of frog, and I’m not sure if it’s the same frog from the lawn which may be the same frog from the swamp corner. This frog is the superior frog. The frog that avoids the mower blades. This frog climbs up my windows and doors and clings from the nighttime glass to have a better chance at snagging the moths and various bugs that crowd my outside coach lights. This frog looks like a tree frog from another place. Another continent. With greens and reds and yellows. In fact, it looks like it may be poisonous, which is likely just a ruse. Still, I let them spend their nights adhered to my glass, and we’ve come to a sort of agreement that this behavior is fine.
You probably don’t have this assortment of frogs in your lawn and on your doors, and that’s fine. But at my house, in the middle of a perfect summer, I have all three kinds of frogs. Lawn, swamp, and door frogs, and it’s obvious to me now that my preference lies with the latter.