The problem with my not-quite-awake brain’s jukebox response was this: no humans were involved that night. We’re talking frogs and toads and they are loud. I mean LOUD! Voyeur that I am, I had no shame and listened from the comfort of my bed.
We could shut the windows, of course, but that’s not a serious option for those nights when the outdoor temperatures are perfect for sleeping.
Eventually a bullfrog added a basso profundo underpinning to the caterwauling of the leopard frogs and tree frogs and Fowler’s toads I knew were out there. For a short time a Barred Owl added its “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for y’all?” above the cacophony.
The amphibian chorus brought to mind another occasion, this in August 1980, where night noises awoke me. Earlier that day I had bought my house, built in 1795, in the Purdy’s section of North Salem, New York (NE corner of Westchester County fifty miles from NYC), and before the furniture arrived I chose to sleep on the living room rug underneath a sleeping bag. I was so tired that I fell asleep before dark.
I awoke to a frightening racket. In my sleep-blurred thinking, I decided there was something wrong with the furnace. After shoving on glasses I followed the penlight beam down the basement stairs, remembering to duck because the ceiling over the steps was low.
Partway down the basement stairs I realized the intensity of the sound was decreasing. Back upstairs, I cupped my hands behind my ears and swiveled my head like an owl to locate the sound. As you have certainly guessed, it was coming from outside. The annual cicadas or katydids or some such were doing their thing—a sound I had never heard before. I laughed at my own foolishness and went back to sleep once my heart quieted.
The next night I experienced the beginning of their bacchanalia. First one insect chirped. Then another. And another. In short order they synchronized their chirps so the singing was in unison. As more males joined in, the noise strengthened and I again heard the chorus that had awoken me on my maiden night in the house.
I know I lose sleep over this stuff, but you’ll never hear me complain.