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I am glad I don’t suffer bufonophobia, a fear of toads, because a gang of American toads (Bufo americanus)  live under my deck. They come out at night and sit, fat as golfballs, one of them the size of a baseball, in the moonlight. Their posturing reminds me of the T-birds and the Pink Ladies in “Grease” at the drive-in.

Careful not to step on them when I stand in the yard, I let my dog enjoy a few minutes of midnight sounds, smells and shadows, with caution. The toads barely budge if she sniffs their bumpy bodies. She doesn’t like toads, luckily. I’m nervous about taking a step, worried I might squish one, anticipating the inevitable movement—but a toad’s test of wills (or staying power) beats mine every time. 

My imagination takes me back to Wind in the Willows, Toad and Frog, and the Riverbottom Nightmare Gang.  The child in me imagines Toad and Frog riding around in their small motorcar. The ecologist in me wants to set up candid cameras under the deck and film the toads’ daytime activities.  This is their breeding time (March-July), when they emerge from their burrows to eat at night and mate. It is more likely that the underside of my short deck is dull by day and hoppin’ at night. I’ve been kneeling down beside my deck and nervously extending my arms beneath the deck, which is less than a foot height-wise, and very dark, trying to take snapshots with my camera.  No success.  Along patches of my seep, nicknamed “Fern Gully,” I’ve observed toadlets, baby toads, crawling along the muddy wooded floor. They are small, about an inch long in body, not counting legs. What’s amazing to me is that toad eggs can hatch in a matter of days (3-13 days) and the toadlets grow to adulthood in about a month. I’ve become so obsessed with the toads beneath my deck that I’ve felt compelled to write a little poem, a work in progress, below is an excerpt.

Echoed in the cricket sound effect
Chirp of your message on my cell
Toads crawl out from under the deck
Hypnotize females fat as golf balls.
Music producers of Nature’s studio,
they mix melodic tunes, as you do;
stuck close to a crew of black tadpoles
when younger, then tripled in mass,
that dark-throated hunger
and explosive mating instinct
unique to the plight of your kind.

Just got the full poem accepted into an international lit mag and so I’ve taken down the poem in full here.

-LCS

See my Guest Post: It’s Dating Season for Toads on the Familiar Wilderness’ series, In Your Backyard here.

Leah

Poet. Artist. Ecoheroine. Human ecologist. Spiritual mermaid and Mystic. I write about literary ecology, wetlands, water, Romantic ecology, and quirky adventures with my dog.

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