I should be getting ready….but I’m not. My relatives will be here in just about an hour…and I have not even showered, dressed or done the dishes that are still sitting in the sink from last night. Ewwwww! I know, it’s deplorable. I don’t have one of those modern conveniences known to most as a dishwasher in this late 70’s model ranch-style fixer of mine, so dishes invariably stack up, either in the sink before being done or beside the sink after being washed. I really “should” get moving, but this is more fun.
I was up early this morning, watering the back yard before the sun turned up its scorch-ometer. I got distracted. I began trimming back a rose bush, moved on to adjusting a few of the flower bed retaining bricks, and stumbled upon a huge toad in the process. There it was, burrowed down in the mud where the water from the lawn was flooding into the holes in the unfinished brick walkway, big bulbous eyes watching me. It almost startled me, he was so unexpectedly sitting there minding his own business and I was reorganizing his world. I stopped and moved carefully around him. I love the toads that inhabit my back yard. In the evenings, the combined noise they make is nearly deafening but, to me, the sounds are music to my ears. I am entertained every evening of the summer with a beautiful orchestra of natural sounds made by these interesting creatures.
My reverie was disturbed by my youngest daughter, Claire, now seven, calling, “Mommy! Look!” I glanced up to see my blue-eyed blondie, with hair flying like some wild Medusa, come careening around the corner of the house holding firmly but carefully in each hand a very large toad. I opened the gate for her so she could join me where I was. We marveled at her find. Since her youngest days frogs and toads have been among her favorite creatures. We have a collection of ceramic frogs and toads in various locations throughout our home. They are all Claire’s. The two toads were nearly as big as the one I’d discovered. Claire brought her trophies to me, beaming with pleasure. She knows by now how to handle the creatures with care, but she still cannot resist picking them up and handling them whenever possible. In this instance, the toads had hopped over to the dogs’ side of the yard and were in danger of ending their lives early. Claire was bringing them over to the side of the yard where the dogs were not allowed and where toads were most welcome and safe.
I motioned to her to come closer and told her of my find. “Where?” she asked. I pointed. She didn’t immediately detect the camouflaged creature who had retreated even further by now so that his eyes were just above the water line of the puddle. With my hand on Claire’s shoulder, her hands full of toads, dangling in mid-air, I pointed to the third toad. Claire gasped then chortled with delight, “Three huge toads!” She put the other two down on the bricks next to the third one. Then like the considerate animal lover that she is, she stepped back and just watched. We enjoyed that moment together, the two of us, watching three beautiful toads remain motionless as they in turn watched us. Soon the toads would relax and begin hopping toward more suitable hiding places. I was concerned that if they were not removed further away from the gate that they might soon end up as playthings for our two dogs. I suggested that Claire move the toads to the flower beds on the other side of the yard. She willingly and eagerly complied.
This is how my summer mornings are usually spent. This why I love summer so much. It is during this season, that I can putter around the yard moving at whatever pace I desire, from project to project as suits my fancy. I am truly led from one distraction to another until the yard is weeded, pruned, trimmed and watered. It is the toad moments, however, that make it all worthwhile. The sun warming the unfinished brick walkway. My tanned daughter, with the sun glinting off her blonde hair exploring the far reaches of the yard for the millionth time uncovering worms, spiders, insects and, yes, our friends, the toads. These are the moments I cherish. These are the memories that I vow to take with me into the school year when the weather turns colder, the yard goes dormant and the stresses and demands of a single mom of four, with a full time career push back into my life. It is these memories that will provide my mini vacations throughout the school year, providing brief moments of serenity until, finally, after the mad dash through the seasons toward spring and the end of another school year, I can return to my backyard and visit with the toads.
Now, an hour later than when I started, I am no further along than when I began, but I am happier and more at peace internally and that is really where the quality stuff of life exists. But now, I have people buzzing in on IM, children desiring my attention, guests on the verge of appearing on my doorstep, dishes still to do and a shower to take, so while I’d love to disappear here for a bit longer, I must go. Until next time, be sure to enjoy the simple unexpected pleasures of the toads in your backyard!