Vegetable gardens, flower gardens, and walks in the fields and woods are my roots. This beginning has given me a love and respect for the natural world and wildlife. But, some wild creatures are more loveable than others.
Take toads, for instance. Please! They are desirable in the garden. They eat slugs and snails and plenty of insects. So do ducks and ducks are cuter. But toads don’t make a mess of the mulch. If I had my choice, I’d take ducks and keep repairing the mulch.
Toads are distinguished from frogs by their thick and warty skin. Although they need moisture, they live on land. Frogs have smooth skin and live in the water. Both are amphibians which means they spend part of their life in water. Frogs and most toads lay their eggs in water, the eggs hatch into tadpoles, the frogs live in the water and the toads come to my yard.
I am overrun with toads: large toads, medium toads, small toads, and recently, itty bitty toads. Now, this is no accident of nature. I have an irrational fear of toads and am convinced toads are working to change my attitude. I have evidence!
Don’t get me wrong. Their presence means that all is right in the garden’s world. I wish them no harm. I just wish them to stay out from under my feet. One especially large one didn’t hop soon enough and I stepped on him. Flattened him into the grass. I felt awful. He didn’t move, just lay there looking flat. As I said, I felt awful, but not awful enough to pick him up. Thank goodness for a husband who doesn’t share my aversion. He picked him up, looked him over and then let him go. The little bugeater had been faking it. He hopped off looking just fine.
When digging a new flower bed last winter I found a soft white glob while putting back the dirt. I squeezed it a few times and, puzzled, turned it over. You guessed it. I was holding a hibernating toad. I shudder when I think of it.
One evening, we were enjoying the sounds of the night creatures as they came awake. Then came the call of an amorous toad a few feet down the walk from where we were sitting. All of a sudden he came hopping straight at me as fast as his little toad legs could move. I shrieked and pulled up my feet. He stopped right in front of my chair. As it turns out, he was after the toad sitting under my chair. UNDER MY CHAIR!
They’re winning. I had to stop and smile at a toad nestled in the leaf of a begonia, half asleep. He looked very comfy and cute. Not furry or feathery but cute in a toad kind of way. I tiptoed around him so he could keep napping.
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By Delilah Onofrey, Suntory Flowers
Photographs courtesy of Suntory Flowers
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