Lots of over-the-shoulder art direction from my kindergartener on this one.
It’s funny, when you’re reading Thoreau’s summer journal, how often he tries to capture the sound of the toads and the frogs. They “stutter,” “croak,” “purr,” “peep,” “pipe,” “snore,” “trill,” and even “trump.”
The sound of frogs represented to Thoreau the “mid-summer’s dream.”
May 25, 1851: “I hear the dreaming of the frogs. So it seems to me, and so significantly passes my life away. It is like the dreaming of frogs on a summer evening.”
May 3, 1852: “The dream of the frog sounds best at a distance — most dreamy.”
May 7, 1852: He wonders if uncovering the scientific truth of something takes away its poetry:
I fear the dream of the toads will not sound so musical now that I know whence it proceeds. But I will not fear to know. They will awaken new and more glorious music for me as I advance, still farther in the horizon, not to be traced to toads and frogs in slimy pools.
He writes that perhaps the different seasons are best represented by “the notes of reptiles,” who express “the very feelings of the earth.”
People made fun of him for how much he listened to the frogs and toads.
On March 28, 1853, he writes of overhearing his Aunt Maria complaining about him not taking time to read a book she recommended to him: “Think of it! He stood half an hour to-day to hear the frogs croak, and he wouldn’t read the life of Chalmers.”
In a 1928 book, Memories of a Sculptor’s Wife, a Concord farmer is quoted laughing about “David Henry” (his actual name — he switched the order), “That darned fool had been standin’— the livelong day — a-studyin’ —the habits—of the bull-frog!” (Reminds me of Abraham Lincoln’s cousin, who was quoted as saying, “Lincoln was lazy — a very lazy man. He was always reading — scribbling — writing — ciphering — writing poetry…”)
No matter to David Henry. June 7th, 1858, he goes down to the river just to listen: