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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Animal Signs: Spring Peepers

It's still pretty soggy in my part of the world and we haven't experienced much sun or warm spring weather just yet, but considering the weather events in most other parts of the world- I'm not complaining!

Regardless of the temperatures, the peepers have arrived! This means that at night, starting sometime after dark, I don't even have to go outside or open a window, to hear an amazing chorus of frogs, more commonly known as peepers. If you don't know what I'm talking about, or just want to hear the sound for yourself, there is a recording of peeper sounds on National Geographic's website at

To me, there is nothing quite like the sound of the peepers. It's both constant and changing at the same time. It's rather a soothing type of night time sound and it takes me back to summer nights under the stars when it was too hot and humid to sleep. Very peaceful.

National Geographic claims "spring peepers are to the amphibian world what American robins are to the bird world". Their arrival is said to be a sign that winter is over and spring, if not quite summer, has begun.

Peepers are creatures of the night. You'd be hard pressed to find them during the day where they like to spend their time in the forest. Although they lay their eggs in the water, they spend most of their time in the woods. Apparently in the winter they hibernate there under logs or loose tree bark. Not quite what you might expect. Most of us figure we would be more likely to find then around bodies of water.

Daniel Mapel in "Into the Heart of the Wild", includes frogs as an animal sign and explains their significance. I hereby apologize to any amphibians I might be insulting when I link peepers and frogs as one and the same. I'm sorry, but to me, if you have legs like that and hop- I'm calling you a frog!

Mapel explains that frogs help us experience the everyday world as miraculous. The appearance, or re-appearance of the peepers, helps us trust in life as a transformative experience. Spring follows winter and the peepers will return. There is quite an element of trust to hearing the peepers. It sounds like there must be millions of them out there so close to you, and yet most of us never or rarely see them. Yet we know and trust they are there- happily causing all that racket.

When you hear the peepers it's a signal to let go of everyday concerns and frustrations and just trust in the sounds of spring and the ability of nature to continue to transform our world in truly miraculous ways. It's a transformation that occurs without our worry, perhaps despite our worry. Nature doesn't need our grand plans or schemes for change. This wonderful transformation happens best without our interference.

Frogs are said to be signals of acceptance. They appear to provide strength and certainty when going through periods of deep emotional and spiritual change. It seems like pretty much everyone in the world is going through that type of change at the moment.

What strikes me is that one night there are no peepers and before National Geographics recording, I wouldn't even be able to really remember what they sounded like. You never hear them during the day. And yet, suddenly it seems, they just "are". They don't start out as one or two making some sounds with a gradual build up of volume. At least, I don't hear them that way. All of a sudden they just seem to appear in my world. I think that's the ultimate signal of trust in something we can't see. The night is transformed by peepers you can't see, and you had no idea they were even on the way. And, they might not be exactly what you expect. You might have run into one in the woods and not even recognized his or her ability to sing. You might be surprised by how few of them are creating that much sound. That's what change is all about!! We never really know it's coming and it's not always what we expect.But we need to trust it's on it's way.

To peepers around the world I say, "Keep singing"!!

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