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American Toad (Bufo americanus) May 21, 2009

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

Last Thursday, just before my trip to visit my high school BFF and see my beloved Bill Irwin play Vladimir in Waiting for Godot (supported by the likes of Nathan Lane, John Goodman, and John Glover), our good buddies several miles down Route 153 invited us to dinner. The gourmet, wine-loving buddies. The ones who half the time serve you something they either grew or raised themselves, or both. (And no, that is not foreshadowing. Calm down.) Their names are Deb and Dan. We have a nickname for them that sneers at their utter unachievable perfection. It involves a word that some would consider rude and unprintable. I will say only that their last name begins with the letter F.

It was a wet night. Tim met me there after work, driving over the mountain to save time. So we had two cars.

After the perfect meal, when it was time to go home, Tim started his car first. I began to pull out behind him, but suddenly, Tim wasn’t going anywhere. He was just inching along. What the…? I thought. Then I saw them.

Hundreds of toads.

They were everywhere (everywhere here meaning including all over the long drive to the road).

We had to get past the ponds now hosting Toad Orgy 2009.

I hate killing things. The sight of roadkill can occasionally induce tears. (And no, I’m not a vegetarian. My life is filled with inconsistency.)

We crept down that drive. (To be fair, there were probably only tens of toads we had to physically dodge—maybe we didn’t have to drive over a hundred. But maybe we did. It was close.)

There was no way we could miss them all. Dan later reported the carnage. His number sounded a little low, given the circumstances. He also noted the death of a yellow-spotted salamander. Very, very sad.

Last night Tim was off at recorder rehearsal and I wanted to drop a VHS tape off at Deb and Dan’s so that my perfect friends could transfer to it something they’d DVRed for me. I got invited to yet another perfect dinner (starring salad greens from the garden!) and got to sit a spell and just look at the beautiful surroundings out that way and at all the leaves that are finally here and at the grazing deer and the yaks. I got to listen to barred owls calling from three different directions, and I got to play with the dog. When the sun was pretty much gone, I figured I better get gone too.

It was dry, but the toads were out. Not in the numbers of Wet Thursday, but out.

I shooed a couple away from my car, but one jumped right underneath, next to the back right wheel, and wouldn’t budge. Dan talked me through backing up and cutting the wheel to miss it. One toad saved.

Then he started down the long drive ahead of me. He’d stomp behind the toads, which, for many, was enough to get them to jump back into the grass. The uncooperative ones he’d pick up and toss aside.

I was delighted that lives were being saved. I was a little jealous at not being the one picking up the toads (despite my general reluctance to do that simply because I can’t imagine that the toads enjoy it; besides not liking to kill things, I don’t really like to freak them out, either, but obviously freaking them out is the lesser of two evils).

It’s an image I think will always stick with me: Dan ahead of me in the headlights of my Big Rolling Death Machine, tossing toads aside.

This morning, a bit of City Indigo creeped back into my stream of consciousness. I found myself thinking about how I regularly tip the parking attendants in Portland, and I realized that perhaps I should have left a sawbuck or two for Dan. I’ve never had better service.



1. bridgett - May 21, 2009

when I was 10, we lived by a creek. We had baby toads in our basement. Like wall to wall toads. And then they all hopped out the sliding glass door…

indigobunting - May 22, 2009

What a wonderful memory. (At least, I hope it is…)

2. cedarwaxwing - May 21, 2009

Oh. Wow. Toads. Jealous. Really.

And to think I get excited over boxelder bug poop.

indigobunting - May 22, 2009

I had to look up the box elder bug and was pretty excited to see that it was one I had seen before!

3. Joya - May 22, 2009

Oh, the road-toad plague is the worst! Sometimes they just can’t be avoided and they make the most awful POP! when the tire goes over.

I am very impressed at the lengths you and Dan were willing to go to in order to save them.

indigobunting - May 22, 2009

I wonder if we could have been as successful on a wet night. And on a wet night, they would have been all over the main road, too.

4. laurie - May 22, 2009

the heck with the toads–how was the play? (and on my first reading i thought you said that bill irwin was your best friend in high school.)

indigobunting - May 22, 2009

I loved the play. I thought everyone did a great job. No, I didn’t go to high school with Bill Irwin, although apparently I did go out with him (and many others) for an after-show meal in the mid-80s, before I knew who he really was or how much I loved him. But that’s another story.

5. Helen - May 22, 2009

Maybe you should do what a Dutch guy we worked with in New Zealand did when he ran over a rabbit: bring it home for dinner. Toad legs anyone?

indigobunting - May 22, 2009

I find frog legs yummy. Toad legs might well be. I have had roadkill moose and deer.

6. Eulalia (Lali) Benejam Cobb - May 22, 2009

Thanks for saving all those local toads! I saved one from the mower in our yard yesterday, and today I saw it again–or one just like it.

How WAS Bill Irwin?

indigobunting - May 22, 2009

He was—as you might well imagine—wonderful. Sigh.

And thank you for saving the toad from the mower!

7. bettyslocombe - May 23, 2009

Come down here, Indigo ,and you can run over as many cane toads as you like, and be public spirited at the same time……I never did see a toad myself. Lovely post: stay here and off that facebook malarky.

indigobunting - May 27, 2009

I do have Facebook malarky problems. I’m trying to get back here.

8. Deloney - May 25, 2009

Kindness in a corner is the best we can do when the bloodbath is so overwhelming.

indigobunting - May 27, 2009

I may have to post that in my office.

9. Craig (Maito Sewa Yoleme) - May 26, 2009

On St. Croix, whenever someone spotted a centipede crossing the road, it was considered his duty to his neighbors to kill it. Run over it with the car if possible, or better yet, get out of the car and take your machete (which you carried with you in the car as a matter of course, not for protection, but for hacking your way through underbrush if the side road you were on happened to get overgrown) and chop the centipede in half. Or quarters.

Now, centipedes down there are huge, and they are poisonous: their sting could make an adult’s leg swell up terribly, unless you happened to be allergic to them, and then you’d go into anaphylactic shock. Small children are always in danger from them.

indigobunting - May 27, 2009

There is so much you should be blogging about. (And I’m glad you posted yesterday! Thank you, thank you!)

Craig (Maito Sewa Yoleme) - May 27, 2009

And a new one today, too. Thanks for the shove.

10. Lynda - May 27, 2009

I hope you shared this piece with the Fullers. Magnificent writing.

Clearly, you owe them a gourmet dinner w/ good wine, since you were a cheapskate about the tip!

indigobunting - May 27, 2009

Ooo, how brilliantly you’ve filled in a blank here! Sly one.

Tim in fact paid them back last weekend with one of his gourmet dinners. All I can do is sous-chef and facilitate!

11. Pat - June 10, 2009

Poor toads. Did they make a loud pop when you ran them over with your tires?

indigobunting - June 11, 2009

Pat: The driveway was so gravely that I couldn’t actually hear the squashing…

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