It’s the time of the toad. Signs have gone up beside the pond at the foot of the suburban hill warning stravaigers to watch out for amphibians underfoot.
It’s frogs and toads, as I understand it. I’ve just looked up the difference on yonder internet, and it appears to be something to do with the skin, since that of frogs is moist and slimy, and that of toads is dry and bumpy.
I once counted 60 of the beasties on a path beside the pond, whither they were heading to breed, which is quite disgraceful behaviour in a public park, but what can you do?
I’m delighted the rangers have put up the signs, as the unwary visitor wouldn’t notice a toad near the toes and, when this immense movement of amphibians is at its height, you can hardly take a step without nearly braining one.
It’s even more dangerous for the beasties on the nearby busy road. I once picked one up and took him over to the pond side and, after his initial discombobulation, he settled down for the ride. Shame I couldn’t have done the same for the badger that was knocked down here last year; only one I’ve ever seen in my life.
You have to admire the determination and ardour of the little amphibians. It’s not a walk in the park walking in the park sometimes. It’s hilly in places and, other than humans galumphing hither and yon, there are also mutts to consider, though the latter probably notice them more easily and are probably more curious than hostile.
It’s said that, like everything else except us, toads are in decline. though if this is them in decline, one wonders what it would be like when they were prospering. But it must be the loss of habitats elsewhere, and perhaps people not having ponds in their gardens as much as they used to.
It’s always a pleasant surprise to find a frog or toad in the garden when you lift up an upturned pot. I’ll say this about them: they’re right slow. They kind of look at you for a while, until you want to say: “Hallo? Is there anyone at home?”
Then they hop off, and usually a decent distance too, probably the equivalent of me taking one big bound to the end of the street. That’d be handy if you needed to catch a bus or escape your creditors. The trouble is that, having hopped, they usually proceed to sit doon for another hour, seemingly somewhat somnolent or perhaps meditative, if you want to put a positive spin on it.
However, they have never struck me as great thinkers, and there’s no getting round the fact that, as they sit there, they look quite glaikit. Then again, so do I when I am meditating and, perhaps like me, instead of focusing on nirvana they are wondering what to have for their tea. Slugs probably. That’s another thing they have in common with me, though at least I cook slugs first and usually add some broon sauce.
I hope the frogs and toads live long and prosper. Everything else that’s seemingly in decline – bees, garden birds, journalists – seems to do quite well round here in suburbia, where we all like to get along together.