Swish, swish. Swish, swish. I am walking slowly, moving first my right foot to the left, then right, then my left foot to the left, then right. Along the edges of the stones separating garden bed from grass, around the base of the apple trees, along the long lengths of the cherry tree trunks lying horizontal in our yard. All perfect toad territory. This morning I lifted up the 5 gallon bucket that we leave under the gutter spout to collect rain water and carried it into the chicken pen. After filling the water containers and then dodging, running, extracting myself from the obsessive/aggressive ducks, I went to set the bucket down under the spout, only to jump back in surprise as I stared at a large dark toad. He must have been there the entire time and neither I, nor the two dogs in the yard, noticed him. Then while trying to mow the grass quickly, knowing that the little babe was getting bored and hoping that I had not run over any toads yet, sure enough, I saw a movement where there shouldn't have been a movement right at the end of the mower. I quickly pulled back, almost sliding onto my ass, catching my breath and hoping that I didn't cut off a limb. Not sure what I was going to find, I made myself look. Deep breath out. A little one, about two inches long, intact and hopping away from my outstretched finger. As the little babe encouraged him to safety under the big bush, I resumed the slow process of frog flushing and mowing. (They are actually toads, not frogs, but "frog flushing" has a better ring to it.)
I can't believe that I used to enjoy mowing, making things neat and tidy on my little homestead. Now I despise it. The noise, the smell, the waste of time, the assault on the natural world. However, I also can't have five dogs and a little babe traipsing through waist high grass. (After all, four of the dogs are only calf high and wouldn't be able to find their way back home.) And so I mow and worry and flush. Swish, swish. Swish, swish.