Joyce Bupp, farm wife

Why is it that some of the smallest beings can make the most noise?

Just ask the sleep-deprived parents of a newborn baby about how much noise a tiny being can make. None of us parents have ever forgotten that.

Loud, high-pitched chirps start on a regular basis here each night well after dark, somewhat resembling those “beep, beep, beep” warning sounds that commence on large equipment when it’s put into backup gear. The loud, incessant chirping comes from right outside a front window, where several porch boxes sit filled with colorful coleuses and red and pink waxed begonias.

The chirps emanate from one of those flower boxes, where an aggressive, vocal and apparently mate-seeking insect serenades everything and everyone within a hundred yards in every direction. Each time I step outside, trying to pinpoint just where the boisterous bug is singing its solo, it immediately clams up.

I’m not exactly sure just what insect is so committed to living in a flower box and screeching each night for extended periods of time, right about bedtime and right outside the window. But I’d love to pinpoint where the sound is coming from, just to sneak out with a flashlight and see if I could identify the soloist. So far, I’ve come up short on this case of insect identification.

One thing is for sure: it’s not a cricket. Their chirping is familiar here, because they seem to like to sneak into the house every chance they get. I’ve read some folklore that claims that a cricket in one’s house brings good luck. If that’s the case, we should be rolling in good fortune about now, because there have been crickets hopping into our living quarters for the last couple of weeks.

The first one of the season turned up inside about a month ago, a tiny cricket hatchling that somehow ended up in the kitchen sink. Maybe it hitchhiked in with some garden produce or on a bouquet of flowers, and then, apparently, sent out word to the rest of its extended family to come join the bugs’ rock band.

For many weeks, there’s been a teeny-tiny bird hanging around the back yard, flitting from tree to washline post to shed roof and then back around again, vocalizing from the top of it’s impressively loud and melodious voice, multiple times each day. Although staying local, the little guy is somewhat elusive; every time I try to focus in on it with binoculars, it flits away.

After scanning several bird identification books, I’m speculating that it’s some sort of warbler, possibly a gnatcatcher. And, it’s been living in an ancient, decorative birdhouse that I hung in a young maple tree at least a year or so ago, just to put it somewhere other than sitting on a basement shelf.

One of those gusty, summertime-evening thunderstorms barreled through the farm recently and, the next morning I found the birdhouse lying on the ground. It was promptly restored to the original hanging spot, but I feared some harm might have come to the spunky resident.

So, when the teeny songster belted out his (or her?) usual rollicking round of rolling notes sometime later in the day, it made me smile with relief. Our mini-singer was alive, well and still happily flitting around the yard.

A wren that resides somewhere around the barn is equally exuberant and loud, the personification of how some of the littlest beings can make the most noise. This resident singer generally lays claim to the tip-top of our electrical service center pole for its solos.

One recent morning, when I let our half-dozen hens out of their overnight pen, the wren promptly flew to the top of the center pole and began blasting out an “about time you birds got up and at it” sort of message.

Not to be outdone in the summer singing are our resident pond amphibians. Each evening, about dusk, the deep bass of a bullfrog starts to sound from a corner of the goldfish pond.

In some years, the frog’s nightly vocals took place on a mass of grass just under the willow tree, where he was visible if you knew just where to look. So far this year, the bass-singing bullfrog has managed to stay hidden in a thriving colony of red-stemmed peppermint growing from the bank.

And we’re happy to know he’s managed to elude the water snakes that hang around there for at least another season of croaks.

But, the lightning bugs that have flickered nightly over the cornfields are already diminishing in numbers. So we’ll enjoy the sparkle and songs that brighten our nights in the brief time they’ll last.

Joyce Bupp is a freelance writer in York County, Pennsylvania.