I look forward to it all year, the chorus of croaking shouts and whispers. Laying in bed at night, breezy relief from sticky heat gentle through my window, I imagine there are thousands.
To me, frog songs are the perfect symphony. I would choose them over Beethoven or Mozart, the gentle rhythm of a language I don't need to speak to fall in love with. The funny thing about this army of well-spoken neighbors is that I rarely see them. Their presence is a beautiful mystery, they come and then disappear and though I wait for them, only their voices let me know they've returned.
I spent my formative years living on stolen land. I suppose we all did, but living on the Lummi Reservation in the topmost corner of Washington; my firsthand exposure to the beauty and challenge of indigenous Americans feels like a gift.
A few weeks ago, there was a Native drummer in the parking lot of Trader Joes, beating a drum and chanting. Another language whose words I don't understand, but the intention was palpable. As we loaded up our groceries he told us to have a beautiful day, and I thought how lucky are we? Some people never hear this kind of song, and we have it handed to us in the middle of a mundane Saturday afternoon.
Wexes is the Lummi word for frog. The frog is a totem of metamorphosis, a symbol of coming into one’s own creative power. In other Native mythology frogs represent adaptability, change, and transformation. Their ability to move between the worlds of water and land is seen as a sign for embracing springtime, moving between seasons and accepting that we must change with the world.
Occasionally, the frogs whose lullabies I crave stray from the waters edge and make their way to the kiddie pool in the front yard, the glowing lime bumpiness of their backs is no longer camouflage but a beacon in the early morning sun. A singular croak louder than the rest alerts me to one on the roof, no larger than a soda bottle cap.
Another morning, I hear one outside the back door. He clings to the side of the house and I grab my camera. I want to capture his essence, to preserve the feeling of summer nights when I feel connected to the land and the life I'm living. I focus in on his eyes, his back, the sticky bumps on his outstretched digits grasping this incomprehensibly large vertical roadblock.
He settles on the ledge at the base of the wall, and I shift around him, changing angles as the dew runs down my bare feet. I don't touch him or move him, I let him be. But I watch him for a long time. It seems silly to think that part of me knows these photos will be the kind of forever-favorites you never tire of looking at. But I knew there was magic there, bright green, breathing, right outside my kitchen.