One of my favorite passages in May Sarton’s Plant Dreaming Deep describes the exhilarating thrill Sarton feels the April after her first winter living in Nelson, NH, when out of the blue she hears her first spring peepers:
Then one evening I heard a slight, shrill, continuous singing, a little like distant sleigh bells. And I suddenly remembered what Tink had said when we sat on a pile of lumber eating lunch that summer day–“The peepers! Wait till you hear them when it seems as if spring would never come!” The long wait was coming to an end.
I’ve never heard spring peepers around our house here in Newton, MA: our immediate neighborhood is too dry, lacking the vernal pools that amphibians need for their annual courtship rituals. But there are plenty of ways we folks in the Boston suburbs know that spring is coming, even in the absence of singing frogs. Today when I took Reggie outside for a mid-morning bathroom break, I noticed one of our backyard trees is blooming, and as I paused to look overhead at its tiny, nondescript flowers, I heard the suburban equivalent of spring peepers: a lone Eastern phoebe calling dryly–nonchalantly–from a neighbor’s yard. I didn’t see this newly arrived solitary singer, but I know he’s there, back north after a winter spent elsewhere: a sign of spring singing in the sun.