Cryogenic Frog


09Nov2015
Wood frogs provide one of the first sounds of the year, calling from vernal pools even in late winter with a chorus that sounds like tiny ducks. They move from ponds into the woods during summer and autumn, finally sheltering under fallen leaves for winter. When the temperature falls below freezing, their breathing and heartbeat stop for weeks at a time. Ice surrounds their organs, but sugars from their livers keep ice out of their cells, so they safely thaw and freeze through the winter as temperatures rise and fall.

As days warm in late winter it takes around an hour for them to revive from the inside out. Their heart begins to beat, their brain awakens, and then they move their legs, within an hour able to hop away from their suspended animation, back to the melting pools still edged with ice.

I found this frog preparing to begin his strange zombie life, searching my yard for a place to winter. With a robber’s mask across his eyes, the only thing he stole was my heart. His long, thin toes somehow reminded me of E.T. and it seemed he could be an extra-terrestrial ready to phone home, frozen for a journey to a planet far away. Some of the strangest stories in the universe are right at our feet.