Haggadah responses

Seasonal song

Last night we drove home late from the first night's seder, at my sister's house in Boston. I dozed in the passenger seat; being in moving vehicles often makes me sleepy, and when the hour is past midnight I know better than to get behind the wheel for extended periods of time. I woke in fits and starts, on the highway and at a gas station and as we pulled into our driveway, and was in a kind of daze when we walked into the house around one-thirty. When I got into bed, the window wide open beside us, the last thing I noticed before sleep claimed me was the sound of spring peepers.

When I woke to a new day I had forgotten them, and I didn't remember until I stepped out of the synagogue tonight after the second night's seder. There's a small marsh behind Congregation Beth Israel, edged with pussywillows and cattails and a glorious enormous willow tree, and at this season it's inhabited by untold numbers of tiny frogs, newly awake and alive and singing courtship songs at the top of their tiny amphibian lungs. That's when I remembered, in a flash, that they had sung me to sleep last night and that my last thought of the day had been a sleepy shehecheyanu because I hadn't heard them in almost a year.

One never knows when the last night of anything will be. The last night of late-summer cricketsong, the last night with the windows open, the last night of snow, the last night of spring peepers. Firsts, though, we notice -- and sanctify. This year, the insistent and piercing song of the pseudacris crucifer gave an extra layer of blessing to my Passover, marking an audible onset of spring.

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