Chorus of Frogs: Listening for One Voice

There is a chorus of frogs all around me. It has been one of the greatest moments of wonder so far on my trip to Victoria. My family lives in a different house now, with trails and ponds surrounding their backyard, and as I write from the sunroom, watching the red streaks of sunset over the distant mountains and the world going dark, almost every sound I would normally hear is drowned out by a peaceful and symphonic chorus of hundreds of frogs. Every so often a siren in the distance, or the soft swirling water cycle of the dishwasher in the next room, but then, moments later, back to the frogs. Tomorrow I will go running on the cedar wood-chip trail through the curly willow and poplar trees against the backdrop of quieter morning frogs and sparrows, and the odd woodpecker, watch the turtles sun themselves on rocks, and ponder the dialogue of the most chatty, insistent, fervent ducks.

Everything in nature has a voice, but not everything gets heard.

I’ve been reading tonight that every species of frog makes a unique sound. Only male frogs can croak, and the sound comes from a small sac in their throats which vibrates the air as they slowly let it out, acting as an acoustic resonator. And the more strength they have, the louder their bellow, because it takes energy and oxygen to chirp. Everything in nature has a voice–whether auditory, tactile, visual, olfactory– they are all saying something to the world. Yet if I listen closely enough to the choir of night-singing frogs, I can pick out the odd one giving the world its soprano solo, or its deep timbrous base. A little louder, slightly different pitch, random rhythm or other characteristics of voice make some stand out more uniquely and others fall into the background, much like humans and the world.

Much like the speaking and written voices that blend or fall into recesses of the world, even when they wish more than anything, that they could be heard. The night frogs remind me of those who have retreated to the back walls and alleys of our communities and cities, those whose weaker chorus of voices we don’t always pay attention to anymore. The marginalized, forgotten, ignored. jared-evans-130416-unsplashWhat does it take to be heard? What does it take for those voices blending into the background, silenced by the loud drone of the world, to stand out again, clear and ringing? Must one be passionately intense? Have the accepted vocabulary? Have the confidence of a soloist? Or have the rest of us simply forgotten how to listen?

The chorus sound of frogs bellowing through the dark night holds so much beauty. But could we enter that blended chorus of voices, hear every note and word, put our ears to the ground of notes and pitches and tune in to the very singular sounds that make up the beautiful orchestra? Because if I really listen, if I tune myself into the particularity of sounds, I can hear them one by one, a little more every night.

It’s a practice perhaps, something we need to do intentionally, and something we have to learn to do–to listen with open ears and with anticipation for what we will receive. It’s a practice of love.

Everything in nature has a voice. Do you hear it?amir-saman-350191-unsplash