My favorite lullaby

So, I’m catching up with Facebook in my local McDonalds (free wi-fi, you know, plus the bonus of free refills of diet Coke), when I run across Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Question: What’s your favorite lullaby? (Gretchen is the author of The Happiness Project, and it’s a great read.)

I have to stop and think, but not for long. Really, what does comfort me so much that, when I hear it, I immediately let go of care and stress and believe that, yes, all’s right with the world?

It would have to be tree peepers. Tree peepers and bullfrogs.

What’s spring without the crystalline chorus of peepers at night to lull you to sleep, their crescendo of songs for the ladies filling the air? There’s something marvelous and elemental, something rich and natural and true that tells you the world isn’t really all messed up and maybe, just maybe, you can enjoy a little bit of that serenity, too. You find yourself cracking the window enough to let in fresh air, or so you say, despite the cool night temperatures. If you are honest about it, though, you’d acknowledge you just want to better hear that soothing sign of spring and renewal. It helps you sleep. It takes away cares. It makes you more mindful of your life. It’s simply the world in perfect balance.

These wee amphibians — National Geographic says they “are to the amphibian world what American robins are to the bird world” — are about the size of a paperclip. In the spring, their clear, soprano voices herald renewal and growth. And their lullaby, though only heard in the spring, allows a better night’s sleep for us all.

Add to that the deep, booming baritone call of the American bullfrog cutting through the night like a foghorn, and you’ve got a combination that can’t be beat. There’s no mistaking a bullfrog’s resonant voice, unless it’s to confuse it momentarily with a cow’s mooing. Bullfrogs dwarf their tiny brethren — reaching up to 6 or 8 inches compared to the peeper’s 1.5 inches. Many a night I’ve lain in bed, sung to sleep by a croaking bullfrog. There’s life out there, even at night, and the world turns, and all is well.

Though I love my home, my only lament is that it’s no longer near a body of water with its springtime lullaby (well, that plus a backyard that’s a steep hill). A few years ago, we lived near the river and a wetlands area. Whenever I could get away with it, I’d leave the window cracked as we went to bed, but often I’d have to wait for Charlie to fall asleep before creeping quietly to the window to turn up the volume (and turn down the heat!). But that’s what warm blankets are for, right?

The other evening, I was driving home after an evening rehearsal. Passing a marshy area I could hear, even through the closed windows, that familiar sound of peepers for the first time this year. I pulled over, leaned my head on the headrest, and just listened for a few minutes. When I reluctantly hit the gas, I realized that some of the stress from the past several weeks no longer mattered, and I had regained some of the equilibrium I’d lost.

It was absolutely the right time for a lullaby. So, like Gretchen Rubin, I’ll leave you with this thought: what’s your favorite lullaby? Have you listened to it lately? Is it time?

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