“What is making all that racket?,” a inquisitive friend of ours asked as he searched in vain for the source of the noise he heard outside our patio during his first summer on the island.
“Oh, tree frogs,” we said. “Sounds like a lot more than tree to me” exclaimed our charming friend in his most sincere Irish brogue.
Ah, the tree frog. Or, in proper Latin, Eleutherodactylus johnstonei. Adorable and no bigger than the nail on your thumb. Which explains why I missed seeing the sweet thing early one morning as I bounded down the stairs to fix coffee and stopped short when I felt something go *squish* beneath my feet. At first I thought that perhaps someone had just been sloppy with their spaghetti the evening before, but then the realization of what just happened hit me full force. A poor little tree frog had made its way into the house the evening before when all the doors were open and became trapped inside. As soon as I felt the evidence of life beneath my foot I jumped away and hoped for the best. I witnessed the stunned little critter clumsily limp through a crack in the wall. To this day I still hope that it was not also his final resting place.
That he was even able to scamper away was startling in itself given the size and weight discrepancy between us. I have always felt that no good can ever come from admitting your age, the number of romantic partners in your past, or your weight. So don’t think that I am going to ignore that mantra now. But suffice to say that our little tree frog experienced the equivalent of the Empire State Building toppling over on him and still had the fortitude to hop away.
Although I find these teeny creatures completely delightful now, I did not always. I remember trying to get to sleep one night when I first arrived on the island and heard an army of them outside my window. It was like living on the interstate during rush hour. How could anyone ever get any sleep on this island?, I fumed. I tried heavy duty wax earplugs. I put the air conditioner on high. Neither helped. It confounded and frustrated me that something so tiny could create such a big noise. I have felt similarly about howling infants no more than a foot long who could produce a sound more compatible with a man ten times their size.
Although puny, tree frogs are impressive by virtue of their sheer numbers and their devotion to amphibian amour. That’s what all the noise is about! The males are wailing in song in hopes of finding a partner. Who knows what that little fella was chasing or running away from when he found temporary refuge inside our drawing room that fateful night of love gone bad.
I live in harmony with the tree frogs now. You get used to them after a while. They become just another aspect of the island’s audio landscape~ much like the sound of the waves and the whoosh of the wind.
But then, all of the sudden, the nights go quiet. Winter closes in and the tree frogs disappear. It will soon be the season of rest. But as sure as night follows day, those amorous amphibians will return. All one billion of them. I will thrill to hear their little voices call out for love once again as it will hearken the return of Spring. It also serves as a reminder that life comes in all shapes and sizes and that we must learn to tread lightly as small creatures could be underfoot.