It was 9 pm.
I opened the door to walk out on the porch, the heat pressure squeezed me into thick soupy air and I instantly began to sweat. There in the yard were three boy critters. They looked up at me and with their shining eyes said, Shhhh, you’re breaking a spell! Instead of feeling caught for being on my daughter’s property, I felt I was the intruder. I kept quiet and took a peek.
One, crew cut ten year old was holding on to a white paint bucket deeper into the night shadows, one shirtless eleven year old was kneeling down on the lawn staring at the bottom edge of the big tree stump, strictly for aesthetic purposes to hold the bird hotel, and one little toe head eight year old had his whole arm inside of a hole underneath the stump.
(Mind you, it is dark outside, and it is even darker inside that hole under that large log!)
“Hey guys, whatcha doin?” I said, acting like I see this all the time now a days. Boys out at 9 pm digging under logs!
“TOADS!” I tried not to give away my surprise, because I don’t see toads very often…
That is when I come around and see that little arm in the hole and shutter. My mind flashes back to the last time I came, when my son-in-law and daughter moved in and we saw the biggest spider spinning what looked like the neighbors dog, in its web. And then were told, by a local, “We’s got snakes, and spida’s, and flies, and fahre ants that will light you up!”
So I swallow back, and say, “Ummm, how many have you caught?”
The bucket boy says, “7!”
“NINE!” says the boy on the ground holding a warty escapee, and the other is pulling a big fat one out of the hole.
“NINE!” I look into the bucket to see not finger nail size little froggies, but palm size toads all looking up at me climbing on top of each other, some trying to hop out.
“OHHHH, cool! WOW! But aren’t you afraid to put your hand inside that hole where there could be spiders and snakes in there?”
“Maham, there eren’t no spahders and snakes in there, just mulch and toads!”
“Ahhh, So do those toads eat caterpillers?” (My next post!)
All three boys stare at me like I am not from around here!
“No Maham, toads eat flies!” (And there is not a shortage of those here!!!)
The boys asked if they could lift the stump to make sure they got the whole Toady family. It was a huge stump, but they were determined to look underneath. I wanted to confirm there were snakes, and fire ants, and spiders and all sorts of dark and creepy-crawly things underneath but there was nothing but mulch and some rolly-pollies.
The toe head jumped on his bike, the guard jumped on a skateboard barefoot, and bucket boy ran behind carrying 9 fat toads until they disappeared down the street beyond the street light.
I stood and watched in silence like I had just experienced something pure and magical.
It was childhood completely unaltered and spontaneous!
The school district may mandate summer is officially over on the calendar.
But wise old summer leaves just when it is good and ready.
It was 9 pm on a school night, and summer and three little boy critters did not care.
There were toads to catch, it’s as simple as that…