Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Old Testament toad

The rivers are not running with blood, but they are bursting their banks and cruelly taking life. The news is grim and Gordon Brown will be taking over a country not so much cleansed as deluged. As for the personal being political, the largest toad I have ever seen in this country took refuge from the watery onslaught in the dog's room last night and as it is still dark I have yet to check outside whether this is a single visitation or a veritable plague, and if I should therefore be checking for lice (might be a tick or two on the sheep), flies (check), dying cattle (my heart starts to sink), boils (so far, so smooth), hail of devastating effect (not yet...but the grass intended for hay has nonetheless been flattened by the downpours), locusts (just butterflies at the moment), and far worse.
The toad was the size of my fist - I do not have large hands, but even so, that is a big Bufo bufo. It was carried carefully into some lush green undergrowth out of dog harm.
There is something hugely appealing about a toad. They live a quiet life, rarely intruding on your thoughts or vision, and then they appear apparently out of nowhere to remind you of their existence and helpful destruction of veg patch pests. Digging up spuds a few years ago, a knot of toads emerged blinking from the soil and incredible care had to be taken as more of them were revealed at each now tentative forkful of earth.
But the biggest toad I have ever seen anywhere was Italian. The Toad of Fontemelaia as it was thereafter named, was the size of a football and I nearly squashed it, driving down the unmade treacherous track after an evening at the local pizzeria. There was this big round lump in the road. Thinking it was a rock that had newly fallen on the path I screeched to a halt. As we went to move the rock, the headlights showed it to be mega toad. We gawped in awe. It hauled itself away from the light never to be seen again. I still wonder if it was a figment of too much chianti, but there were four of us and we still recall that night and the wonderful cherries and fireflies that flourished below the flea-ridden but oh so romantic farmhouse.
If my biblical toad is still around in the morning light I will try and take a photo of the man himself.

8 comments:

Flowerpot said...

I haven't seen any toads round here for ages, Mopsa. By the way, seeing the Juggler on your blog made me realise, Marc C has an exhibition here in Falmouth.

DevonLife said...

Toads and bats. Two things that I haven't seen in Devon... yet. Mind you have just seen a 10cm long centipede in my office filing cabinet.

Just discovered your blog. I took am battling on a farm in Devon, while still earning a living as a hard-thinking city person.

Mopsa said...

I'm sure Chagall would have been delighted to know his work had graced Falmouth. Fab stuff.

Devonlife - I popped over to visit - how is the hairy Patricia and the rest of the cattle? Are you good at milking?

mutterings and meanderings said...

I am another toad fan. I used to haev pet ones when I was a kid. they fascinate me ...

What was it Shakespeare said, something about even the toad having a jewelled eye, or something along those line?

Lokk at your toad's eyes - they are like amber...

Sylvia said...

my parents property on Lake Como has hot and cold running toads. In Spring, volunteers come and load toads up in buckets and tip them in the lake so that they don't all get squashed on the road. My father has a series of ramps he sets up for the toads as they get stuck behind various walls. In summer, the little toads make their journey back up the mountain, so they need a bit of help.
Apparently, they're supposed to be a very rare breed.

mutterings and meanderings said...

Oh, and if it's a very big un, it's probably a lady toad. The boys are smaller.

tim relf said...

So did you ever manage to get a photo of the creature in question?
Pity the poor Aussies, by the way - they get some some massive cane toads.
http://www.fwi.co.uk/blogs/rural-life/2007/03/hop-to-it.html

Mopsa said...

M&M - I stupidly didnt take a photo of the toad and its eyes are forever hidden from me now, hidden in a patc h of lush vegetation somewhere on the farm, and yes, I guess it was a girl because of its greatness!
Sylvia - a property on Lake Como! we can dream....
And Tim, sadly no photo - next time I will seize the moment and not crawl up to bed expecting the moment to be there 8 hours later!