Remember the classic children’s stories about Frog and Toad, two amphibians made immortal by Arnold Lobel? Well, the stories I have to tell don’t deal with the sometimes-slimy frogs, such as the bullfrog who belches in our creek or the leopard frogs my husband tries not to squish with his lawnmower. Nope, these stories tell the tales of toads, the lumpy-bumpy amphibian friend of Frog.
My first memories come from our times at the hunting cabin in Potter County. Hazy summer afternoons often found relief from the heat through a thunderstorm. Though I hated the sound of the thunder reverberating through the mountain and the thought of the lightning maybe striking one of the trees and toppling it onto the cabin, squashing us like bugs, I loved the aftermath—toad hunting!
As soon as darkness fell, young and old gathered buckets and piled into the station wagon. Dad drove to deserted dirt roads and slowed to about 5 m.p.h. He and Mom watched the headlight-lit road, while my two brothers and I waited on the backseat for our turn to jump out and capture the toads which hopped about the roads after rainstorms. Of course, frogs also made their appearances, but being quicker and slipperier than their amphibian counterparts, we didn’t catch many of those. Soon, our buckets resounded with the croaks and garumps of tiny to giant, meatball-sized toads.
One year, Dad let my brother bring a bucketful of these creatures home to put in our terrarium. Unknown to my father, my brother hadn’t followed the rule to keep the bucket’s lid closed on the trip. Somewhere along Route 15, my dad hollered, pulled over to the side of the highway, leaped out of the car, and began jumping around on the roadside! Apparently, some tiny amphibians had decided to leave their metal domicile and hide in my dad’s pants! What a hullabaloo that was! I believe from then on, any livestock were kept in the back of the station wagon.
Another time, when our daughters were young, we forgot to bring a bucket with us when we hopped in the car to go toad-hunting. My sister-in-law, not to be denied the fun, found an empty Pringles® potato chip can in their car. Unfortunately, fleshy toads plopped on top of each other in a 2-inch diameter can don’t enjoy the comfort … and air … of a well-ventilated bucket. We won’t go into what we found when we returned to the cabin, but the memory of my sister-in-law, who probably had never touched a toad in her youth, stopping the car and insisting to be the one to jump out and capture all the toads herself will forever be cherished.
One final story, a more recent one … as in just last year! Our daughter, the one who sometimes admits to being the mother of our two grandsons (ages 5 and 3 at this writing), invited me to her home to make “toad abodes.” The boys wanted to make homes for the toads they kept seeing at their house. Sarah had gotten some old pottery planters, gathered paints and other supplies, and took everything outside. The boys, Sarah, and I painted the planters and glued glass baubles and beads, pinecones, acorns, bits of bark, burlap, and more to the dry pottery. We even added a few locust shells we found on their trees.
With more paint on the boys than their pots and pinecones glued to their fingers, we finished the project, and I took my “toad abode” home to place it on the stoop to our front yard. Alas, no toads thought this a fitting home. Not even a good place to take a nap. One day, months later, my husband found a toad, forced it inside the “toad abode,” and took a photo to send to our grandsons. They were delighted … even if the toad was not!
Do you have any toad stories from your childhood or more recent years? Live toads, book toads, figurine toads, jewelry toads … doesn’t matter what kind! Share your toad story with us! Blessings!