They’re calling out in Lambert’s Cove. In Oak Bluffs, too, Edgartown, the entire Island by now. They’re looking for love in all the muddy places and anyone out at dusk can’t help but be caught up in this annual mating call.
The pinkletinks have awakened. Spring is here.
It often begins with the first snowdrop, a burst of color peeking out from beneath a dead leaf or matted grass. Ospreys are another harbinger of spring. An early sighting on Chappy is still being debated. Maybe a red-tailed hawk or other raptor, the naysayer said. Then on Thursday during the brief snow flurry another was spotted in Cow Bay.
There was no debate about the Dairy Queen opening this past Wednesday. Kids from all over the Island arrived fresh from a half-day of school, led by the gravitational pull of Blizzards and twist cones dipped in chocolate.
Daylight Saving Time began last Sunday showering more light on dinner time. No longer do Islanders need the high beams just to drive home from work.
And yet there is something about the call of the pinkletink that stirs the soul even deeper. Dairy Queen, ospreys, snowdrops, even the official first day of spring this Wednesday belong to the whole world. The pinkletinks are Island-grown, so unique the origin of the name is unclear. Checking the Gazette archives, the first mention is on July 16, 1908. “The name pinkletink is traditional; it runs far back into the early Vineyard past. Oddly enough, the [people] who live around Baltimore have a name . . . related to this; they call their frogs “tinktank.”
These tiny frogs grow only about an inch long for males; females continue to an inch and a quarter. Only the males sing, their lusty calls echoing out from the primordial ooze. It’s date night in the swamp and the frogs are not shy about letting their intentions be known. They sing not for their supper but for the continuation of their species.
It is no wonder we hear them and feel the excitement of rebirth that spring offers, plus a gentle tug at our own mortality.