Living where I do, I am not only blessed with the conveniences of a mega Wawa and quick access to lots of shopping and three or four major highways, we also have lots of wildlife. It is not uncommon for me to drag the kids to the windows or outside to see all manner of critters: deer, skunks, opossums, groundhogs, fox, wild turkeys, praying mantises (as big as my hand!), stick bugs, lots of butterflies. I’ve even seen a pheasant or two in the last 15 years here. In mid-September, I was revisited by a rather large hop toad that seems to like hanging out on my front stoop in the fall. I’m guessing it’s the same toad, since every year the toad that arrives is bigger than last year’s toad.
If it’s the same toad, I suppose he’s been hopping onto the scene for three or four years now. Maybe more. He started out as this cute little thing, maybe two inches long or so, from tip of nose to rump. This year, he’s roughly five inches long. I’d like to measure him, but I don’t want to freak him out, either.
As usual, he marked his arrival by scaring the bejeebies out of me, narrowly escaping my downwardly-moving size-eleven shoe that would’ve squashed him flat on my way to the mailbox. I’m not scared of the toad itself; I am afraid of squashing him. He has this knack for putting himself smack in the line of my footsteps. Hi, Toad! Welcome back.
The kids were still up, so this year I let them look at the toad.
My daughter named him George.
I hadn’t seen George in a few days, and I was just figuring that he’d become food for something else when I went outside to put the kids’ bikes away before it got too dark since our driveway light burned out a couple days before. I stuff my son’s bike in the garage and close the door. As I moved away, I felt something odd under my foot and brushed it to the side. I look down, and I see George -- George! -- laying belly-up on my driveway. Oh, damn! I murdered George. I felt awful and I wanted to cry.
Well, seriously now, my guilt-ridden heart didn’t want to believe that I’d actually squashed him. Maybe he’s stunned. Yeah, that’s it. Maybe he’s playing possum so I don’t eat him. Maybe he didn’t get his guts ruptured under my shoe. Coward that I am, I comfort myself with this weird rationalization and go inside instead of removing George’s flattish-looking carcass from the driveway.
Double damn. I had a last-minute errand to run, and I had to go back outside. Lo! There was George, sitting in the driveway as he usually does and looking at me. Lazarus rose! I was so excited and happy to see him. I was even happier to see him not there when I returned home.
Yeah, okay, maybe he hopped off and died in the flowerbed, but I don’t believe that. Nosiree. Just shut up and let me have my delusions.