My Gardening Companion

When the rock jumped so did I, but neither of us jumped very far, in fact I leaned in closer to see.    It was no rock but a Sonoran Desert Toad hunched beneath a bower of vinca and petunias nestled alongside a large boulder.  I know the Toads live here in the garden but usually I only see them at night and even then they are difficult to see, their black-green skins a perfect camouflage for nocturnal hunts. 

His back was to me.  Toad’s tough skin had the sheen of a seal fresh from an ocean swim.  If I stretched out my hand I might have stroked his back though I doubted he would appreciate it and, to be honest, my desire to touch him was a bit shaky.  So I simply nodded, picked up my trowel and continued planting summer annuals, daisies of purple, yellow and gold.  As I plunged the trowel into the moist earth Toad made a quick hop, flipping his body 180 degrees the better to focus the round pools of his eyes upon me.  The efficiency of his movement impressed me for he seemed so large and ponderous.  We each took our measure of the other, then slowly, so as not to frighten him, I slipped the trowel into the soil again.  He watched.  Only inches away yet we both felt comfortable with our proximity to each other, companionable in fact, and to my delight he watched me dig and place plants around his daytime home.  Sitting back on my heels I surveyed my handiwork and looked to him for approval.   He didn’t blink, didn’t twitch a muscle, but his fearlessness in my presence conveyed his acknowledgement that these flowers would do a fine job of attracting the most delicious insects for his nightly meal.  

All through the week as I made the rounds with my watering can I looked for him but he hid himself well from the sun’s eye.   His companionship that day, however, stayed with me and I was not sure why.  This was not a fairy tale, no princess eager to kiss a frog or a toad.  As a friend he is much too quiet, even for someone as quiet as me.  Perhaps that is the thread between us, the ability to sit together in silence and share the beauty of the flowers.  How does he sense?  His eyes are large round orbs to take in the night but I spotted no ears to hear my approach.  His skin appears leathery yet is it delicate enough to sense the wings of the approaching fly?   His reflexes are quick, I have seen how fast he can spin and jump.  I longed to see him again to get to know him better.

Deciding to take advantage of the relatively cool morning air the other day, I knelt beside the flower bed to pull weeds and found Toad.   He didn’t jump this time, simply turned those liquid eyes on me once again and watched my every move.   It was then I realized he was as curious about me as I was about him.  Since that day I see him often around the garden, mostly in the evening or cool morning.   I nod my head to him, he watches me.   Perfect gardening companions.

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