Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



All of My Friends

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Toad Today. Gone Tomorrow.



The native denizens of the pasture
I was checking the herd in the north pasture.
My favorite assignment.
You pointed the horse in the right direction and sat back for the ride.
Occasionally you would be required to come out your reverie long enough to glance around and take stock (literally).
The cows would stare at you for a moment, glance towards their calves for reassurance, then drop their heads and continue grazing.
Then you could sink back into your own thoughts.
Tough job.
The most peaceful work on the planet.
Except that this time, there were more critters in the pasture than I had anticipated.
But I am getting ahead of myself . . .
It had been a wet year. Almost unheard of in very arid Southern Alberta, but very much appreciated.
Things were green and growing. There were even small ponds of water standing about. 
Something I had never seen.
I started up the east side of the pasture, heading north.
All was well.
I turned west at the northern fence and continued on.
Everything remained quiet.
Reaching the western boundary, I turned south.
Halfway along the western fence, my horse stopped.
Okay, this was different. I emerged from my thoughts long enough to frown at her and give her a nudge.
She stayed where she was, eyes and ears pointed straight ahead.
Huh. Weird.
Maybe my goofball ex-racehorse had seen something. It would take a miracle, but I believed in miracles.
I decided to look around.
Just to my left was a small hill, and beneath it, a basin, hardly more than a dimple, which had until today been filled with fresh, clean water.
Water that had . . . too quickly . . . disappeared in the sandy soil.
Now only mud remained.
And something more. Something that was . . . moving.
I nudged my horse again.
But she was staring at that mud and "had no intention of going any closer, thank you."
I slid off her and, looping the reins around my arm, proceeded forward on foot.
My horse let the reins play out as far as she could, then reluctantly followed.
I stopped a few feet from the mud's edge because that was as far as I could go without stepping on something.
A tiny toad.
One of dozens, maybe hundreds of them, crawling over each other and milling about.
Toads.
Here.
In a place that, in a normal year, was miles from any water.
And where, I should point out, we had never, ever seen them before.
Where could they have come from?
And, more importantly, how could I get one home?
I glanced at my still-nervous horse and my 'saddlebag-less' riding pad.
Nothing there that would hold them.
I had pockets.
Hmm. Worked for Dennis the Menace on TV.
I picked one up and studied his small, sturdily-built body.
No. I might squish him.
I set him down.
I watched them for some time, moving about, doing their little 'toady' things.
It was fascinating.
But finally, I had to move on.
Regretfully, I mounted up and let my horse make a wide detour around the writhing mass of little bodies.
By the time I was able to drag my father out to see them the next day, the mud had dried up.
And my little friends had disappeared as if they had never existed.
I glanced around.
Surely this was the spot?
But there wasn't a living thing to be seen.
Certainly nothing moved.
Where could they have gone?
Dad stared at the spot.
Then he looked at me and shook his head.
He believed me. I know he did.
I'm almost sure he did.
Okay, well, it wouldn't have been the first time I had told a 'big windy'.
But this time, I was telling the truth.
Sigh.
We never saw them again.
They disappeared as completely as if they had never existed.
Maybe they hadn't.
But if that's true, I had held, for a short time, a bit of my imagination in my hand.
It tickled.

12 comments:

  1. When Kristi was still living at home, she came back from work one night after it had rained. The toads were croaking and they make a much higher pitched sound than frogs. Kris felt somewhat spooky because she'd never heard it before. I just told her that it was a bunch of male toads looking for some action.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep. Male anythings looking for action are scary! ;)

      Delete
  2. Reminds me of the time, about 1965, that I helped my Dad dig a new root cellar on our farm, which was just about exactly mid-way between two rivers which were some 15 miles apart. We got the root cellar done, and when we came back a couple of days later to inspect it, there were two adult salamanders crawling around on the cool moist earth in a dark corner of the root cellar. Where they came from, out on the dry old prairie, and how they got there I've never been able to figure out. And I'd really like to know who told them there was a new cellar in the neighbourhood! Nature is amazing. Particularly amphibians.

    Diane's Reptilian Husby

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow, this post gave me chills! I love how you create this window into your world. You are a great writer, Diane!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Rachel! You've made my day!

      Delete
  4. That is a question for the ages. No toads since?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nary a one. and there were hundreds! Where they came from and where they went has been a question ever since!

      Delete
  5. Fascinating ... I'll be thinking about this now for days. Where did they come from, indeed! (and where did they go - that too -- although I would think maybe the hawks or owls in the vicinity might have had a banquet that night :( )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought of the owl/hawk banquet. But there were just so many . . .

      Delete
  6. Susan Kane sent me - for which I am very grateful. Where do they come from, where do they go? A mystery. And magic.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for visiting! Drop by again!

Daughter of Ishmael

Daughter of Ishmael
Now available at Amazon.com and Chapters.ca and other fine bookstores.

Follow by Email

Ghost of the Overlook

Ghost of the Overlook
Need a fright?

Google+ Followers

Networked Blogs

My Granddaughter is Carrying on the Legacy!

My Granddaughter is Carrying on the Legacy!
New Tween Novel!

Gnome for Christmas

Gnome for Christmas
The newest in my Christmas Series

SnowMan

SnowMan
A heart warming story of love and sacrifice.

Translate

My novel, Carving Angels

My novel, Carving Angels
Read it! You know you want to!

My Second Novel: Kris Kringle's Magic

My Second Novel: Kris Kringle's Magic
What could be better than a second Christmas story?!

About the Mom

My photo

Diane was born and raised on one of the last of the great old Southern Alberta ranches. A way of life that is fast disappearing now. Through her memories and stories, she keeps it alive. And even, at times, accurate . . .

Join me on Maven

Connect with me on Maven

Essence

Essence
A scientist and his son struggle to keep their earth-shattering discovery out of the wrong hands.

Essence: A Second Dose

Essence: A Second Dose
Captured and imprisoned, a scientist and his son use their amazing discovery to foil evil plans.

Looking for a Great Read?

E-Books by Diane Stringam Tolley
Available from Smashwords.com

The Babysitter

The Babysitter
A baby-kidnapping ring has its eye on J'Aime and her tiny niece.

Melissa

Melissa
Haunted by her past, Melissa must carve a future. Without Cain.

Devon

Devon
Following tragedy, Devon retreats to the solitude of the prairie. Until a girl is dropped in his lap.

Pearl, Why You Little...

Pearl, Why You Little...
Everyone should spend a little time with Pearl!

The Marketing Mentress

The Marketing Mentress
Building solid relationships with podcast and LinkedIn marketing

Coffee Row

Coffee Row
My Big Brother's Stories

Better Blogger Network

Semper Fidelis

Semper Fidelis
I've been given an award!!!

The Liebster Award

The Liebster Award
My good friend and Amazing Blogger, Marcia of Menopausal Mother awarded me . . .

Irresistibly Sweet Award

Irresistibly Sweet Award
Delores, my good friend from The Feathered Nest, has nominated me!

Sunshine Award!!!

Sunshine Award!!!
My good friend Red from Oz has nominated me!!!

My very own Humorous Blogger Award From Delores at The Feathered Nest!

Be Courageous!


Grab and Add!

Search This Blog

Ghost of the Overlook

Ghost of the Overlook
Need a fright?