There are some days when I believe I would prefer hemorrhagic smallpox to a cross-country move. Four days ago, on a very sunny and humid midwest morning, I gulped down my coffee and hurried out of the house to procure a cashier’s check to secure the lease on a small house in Washington state. Choosing a place to live sight-unseen makes the hairs raise on the back of my neck, but that’s what is necessary right now. 

Our house is looking like box-city these days, and I realize I have already packed things that I clearly still need, but can no longer get my hands on. Do you have those days when you wake  up with a kink in your inner harmony? I was having one of those. A multiple kink morning, in fact. I was tired—who sleeps when you have a move on your mind? I was grouchy. And I was just self-aware enough to realize what a sourpuss I was being, but not aware enough to do anything about it.

Yanking open the door of my car and flinging my purse inside, I caught sight of something out of the corner of my eye in the doggie wading pool. I keep one of those little blue kiddy pools at the end of the driveway so that all the neighborhood dogs have a place to drink and soak on a hot day. Something was in the pond, settled near the bottom, and it was not a dog.

Coming up alongside the wading pool, I found myself eye-to-eye with a large, placid-eyed toad. In the pond with her was a curly wad of black string or coiled wire. I was having one of those moments when nothing you look at seems quite real at first, until your eyes talk to your brain and sort it all out. My hand was beneath the toad, lifting her gently, before my eyes and brain linked up and I figured out that Ms. Toad was not alone. Clasped tightly to her back was an ardent boy toad. The string or wire in the pond with them was actually long, curly black ribbons of toad eggs. Thousands of them.

Never in my four years of living in this house has any toad graced any body of water on our property with eggs. I know this because I’ve looked for them—longed for them—forever. And here she was, Ms. Toad, fulfilling a dream of mine in the very nick of time. Two weeks later, and  I never would have seen her, all wrapped up in toad bliss. Two more weeks, and I’ll be on the road and far away from my precious enchanted forest.

The feel of her in my hand so heavy and slow and smooth-bellied made my sore heart sing. And the song in my heart found its way to my face, and I smiled. I cradled her in one hand, and her eggs in my other. Careful not to drop the toads or a single, precious egg, I carried the lovers and their progeny over to my bathtub pond, where they would have a much easier exit when their carnal cravings were spent.

When I got into my car and turned on the engine, I was still smiling. The smile stayed with me all day. It wiped away each and every kink in my inner harmony, and I was restored to someone I could stand to live with. When I got home from the bank, I told Carter all about the toads and made him come outside and see them and see the ribbons of eggs floating in the bathtub pond.

That morning, all the self-talk in the world had not been enough to put me back into my better, stronger, saner self. I imagined the spirits looked down upon me that morning and said to each other, “Oh goodness. Oh my oh my. She’s a mess today. Quick, send down those toads…”

And this morning, after we’d unloaded dozens of packing boxes and tape and paper from the car, and my stomach was growling because I had forgotten to eat any breakfast before going two-hour, long distance box hunt, I was in fine spirits.

Because you see, before I stepped into the car this morning, I checked on my toad eggs and found, to my joy and delight, dozens of tiny tadpoles—or is it toadpoles?—popping out from the spirals of egg casing in the pond. Ribbons of promise, the toads had left behind, and the promise came true this morning in the shape of tiny black wigglers spinning out in all directions. Who needs self-talk when you have THAT?

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