As the weather has warmed up, I have noticed more and more reptiles and amphibians on my daily walks. First, it was the turtles soaking up the rays of sunlight on an otherwise chilly day. Then came the frogs, and the other afternoon I came across a little Northern water snake on the path. Despite his diminutive size this snake held his ground.
Yesterday I was delighted to come upon the American toad – Anaxyrus americanus – of my youth. Unbeknownst to my youthful self, they were classified as Bufo americanus in those days. We loved to find them. We would hold them, and they would excrete a “urine” in response, and after a period of boyhood tormenting we would release them, because even then we had been taught that natural things have the right to their own life and domain.
I didn’t touch the toad I found yesterday, and he just froze in the path confident in his camouflage. You think immediately of princes under the spell of witches waiting to be kissed by a kind-hearted maiden. That is, of course, the Ovidian stuff of metamorphic myth, where things judged ugly may be transformed. Who is the ugly one? Remember though, that there is change in nature. Egg clusters become tadpoles, and tadpoles become frogs. Fuzzy goslings soon become geese. And verdant leaves take on the hues of autumn. It is far from a static world and these changes are as dramatic as princes changed to toads.
I conceived of the image of Figure 1 and I took it with my IPhone, which does a wonderful job of macrophotography. Indeed, I should say an amazing job of it. I was troubled by the top views that I kept getting, which really didn’t show the eyes. So I got down on the ground with the toad and held my camera sidewards on the earth within inches of him. The result is Figure 1, and I am pretty pleased with the effect.