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Outdoors: Among the frogs

Spring Peeper by Tim Mayo | Absolute Michigan
Spring Peeper by Tim Mayo | Absolute Michigan
Spring Peeper by Tim Mayo | Absolute Michigan

"I never shall enjoy any peace of mind until I know why Iolanthe went to live among the frogs."

That line from the Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Iolanthe” was probably hilarious to Victorian audiences who would have recognized it as political satire.

The operetta contains some rather blatant jabs at British society, Parliament and even Queen Victoria.

In the show, a fairy named Iolanthe is banished from England and she opts to live at the bottom of a stream among the frogs.

Understand that in those days, the English referred to the French as “frogs.”

So, when poet/writer Oscar Wilde was living in exile in France, the slang would have been: “he was banished to live among the frogs.”

Need I say that G & S plots are ridiculous?

Iolanthe lived for twenty-five years among the frogs at the bottom of the stream.

In the British Isles, and also the Great Lakes region, some species of frogs do spend the winter buried in the mud at the bottom of a stream or pond.

But to the surprise of many, the frogs we are hearing this time of year, the wood frogs and spring peepers, live most of the year in the woods.

They hibernate above ground in moist leaf litter or rotting logs. In spring, they must migrate to ponds and pools to breed so their tadpoles can develop underwater.

They tend to travel to wetlands and ponds when it is raining.

So on rainy spring nights, as the Fairy Queen would say, “Think of the damp! And the frogs.”

"Outdoors with Coggin Heeringa" can be heard every Wednesday on Classical IPR.