I was moving logs from the chopping block to the log store. The wood had been chopped the day before and a toad had taken up residence. I almost didn’t see him, then he was there, and completely impossible to miss. Isn’t that so often the way with nature?
Toads are such soft, ancient, fragile things, not made for the world the way it is now. I can’t bear to think of them exposed to birds, car tyres, polluted waterways, or worse, domestic cats. I picked him up very gently in my hands. He didn’t wriggle or squirm but sat, still and blinking. His warty skin felt soft as brushed leather. I took him down to the log store, where he will do us a good turn munching on slugs, if he decides to stay.
I showed him a gap between the logs. He immediately put out an arm, then lifted a leg, and scrambled in. Instantly he was gone, his camouflage making him look like a fallen leaf which had drifted down from the tree and settled in a crevice. So clever. What a special treat.
I have no picture of him, and there’s no picture with this post. I made a resolution this summer holiday, to rarely have my phone on me or even ‘on’. I realise that is only millimetres away from my parents’ neglectful approach to mobile phones. It’s a slippery slope I’ll happily slide down as I get older, I’m sure, much to my children’s annoyance! But for this summer, I wanted to be present in the moment, mesmerised by a toad, not running for a phone to take a picture. There is a visual image lodged safely in brain after all. I took it out and turned it over in wonder at home afterwards, reading Norman MacCaig’s poem, Toad. One of my favourites.