As we mature beyond middle age, the amount of time that was once spent doing the mumbo jumbo turns into more sleep, less jumbo.
This enables us to hear all the shit going on.
Perhaps if you live in the inner city you will begin to hear sirens, horns and shootings. Maybe if you live on the outskirts of town you will notice a squealing tire, a barking dog or your neighbor's being robbed. But if you live in the black hole with a murky pond out your back door, where Sven and I happen to reside, you will start to hear everybody doing it.
This is nothing new. It has always been going on.
I have been lulled to sleep by all the chirping, clucking and screams, for years.
But as each new spring arrives and I grow just a little bit older, it is has become clear to me that I had not really been listening.
Every year Sven says, "I love the Spring Peepers."
I know what he means. They are the first little green guys to arrive after the thaw. They are so excited about life and the possibility of screwing that they cannot stop their peeping and tweeting to save their souls. They are the definition of middle school.
I myself happen to love the Chorus Frogs. I may be tone deaf, but I know harmony when I hear it.
But, not all sounds are that wonderful.
Nature is nature.
"Do something!" I yelled at Sven in the dark.
"What am I supposed to do?" he yelled back at me as we pictured a fawn drowning at the hands of a pack of coyotes.
Had I known there was a .22 in the closet, I would have said, "Shoot your fucking gun."
But I only learned that last year after curling, when Sven shot out the bedroom window.
Our boys' bedrooms were on the ground floor. Rene's window faced the pond. Marques' window faced the driveway. Apparently the driveway scene won. As soon as Marques' left for college, Rene moved across the hall to the bedroom with the driveway view. He said he was sick of all the frogs.
I think he just wanted to see the driveway in case anyone was coming to save him.
Adrienne chose the bedroom in the basement. The one with the attached bathroom, a window facing the pond and an easy escape route, as in a door to the outside.
Our house is haunted.
Adrienne was never bothered by the ghost down there. I think all the smoke billowing out of her room was a turn off to him.
He did however, walk across the frozen pond one night, scaring the bejesus out of her as she listened to the cracking ice heading her way. I think he just wanted some air.
Whippoorwills are interesting fellas.
In Mexico they have Latino accents. How does that happen? Why would birds sound like the people around them? Or is it that people sound like the birds in their area? Has there been a study on this yet?
"Whipp - Or -Will."
There was the year of the old guy. "Whipp - Or - Will," he would say, like Leonard Cohen and as slow as molasses, while all the young birds were whippoor-willing at a hundred miles an hour around him. He was steady and he was persistent. I sure hope that he got some satisfaction.
I thought he was charming.
We have a new whippoorwill in the neighborhood. He can't say it right. He says, "We are real."
Sven looked him up.
"Millie," he says, "He is a Poor Will."
Then he showed me the picture in his bird book, because Sven has a book for every topic. Sure enough. We have a Poor Will. And it looks like he came from the west coast. Was he run out of town? You've got to be pretty bad to get run out of California. And the whippoorwills around here do not like him.
When he says, "We are real," the rest of them stop their, "willing" and give him the silent treatment.
After he gets tired of saying, "we are real," the others start up and go on and on and on with their perfect enunciation of "whippoorwill."
I think he's a hot, bad ass. I bet the girls are giddy about the new guy in the black leather jacket, with the funny accent. But he probably just wants a friend. Maybe he is sick to death of nothing but booty.
It is not always easy being a rock star.
The family of raccoons on our bedroom deck would have been hard to miss even if Sven and I had been rocking out at the time. It wasn't that they were noisy, but, Leonard our yellow lab from hell, was pretty upset about the situation. And in case you are wondering, there is not a lot you can do to persuade a mother and her babies to move when they are all standing there frozen with fear, staring at you with those big round eyes.
As nice as it is to have a pond and all the chaos happening out your window, I think that is where the animals and amphibians belong. Outside. They do not belong in my room. Seriously, a person should be able to take a pee in the middle of the night without a big turtle watching them. Sweet Dakota Jones, our yellow lab crossed with a freckle faced kid had a habit of collecting turtles. Apparently he made it in the house with this one.
"Sven, there is a turtle over there," I said, jumping back into bed.
"Where?" he says.
"By the dresser."
"Well, do something."
"What do you want me to do?"
"Take him outside."
"But I'm sleeping."
It is just a good thing I was unaware of the .22 in that closet. They say there is a seven second window when bad things happen.
Of all the critters out my window my favorite are the Chorus Frogs.
Unlike the immature Spring Peepers that come before them, these guys are smooth. They never sing a bad note. They are persistent and keep perfect time. They are strategically arranged along one side of the pond, wearing black tuxedos, holding music books up, keeping one eye on the conductor and one eye across the pond where the girls sit in the moonlight with their wine and their spit-shined warts.
"Not now Sven. I am listening to my boys."