Toad and I Are Friends

From Frog and Toad Are Friends, by Arnold Lobel

I settled down on my bolster, folding my legs into each other and resting my hands on my thighs. My eyes were tired with sleep and pollen and a wakeful night. I closed my eyes. I breathed in and out. In and out.

Then, like a stunned rabbit, I felt the urge to jump out of my seat.

And do what?

I don’t know, but whatever it was, it would be better, I thought, than sitting here. I breathed in and out and my sleepy eyes closed.

I am doing this, I said to myself. I will meditate this morning!

The intermittent sound of tractor trailers and cars and birds and crickets drifted into my open window. My mind drifted on the sound.

And then I started making my grocery list, and chore list, and “forgot to call/email/talk” list. I drifted away on my lists.

I twitched and wiggled. I sat up straighter, aiming the crown of my head upward. I relaxed.

I was sitting now.

Then my ears picked up a rustling of rocks and gravel, so close it must be coming from my basement window well. It got louder. It stopped. It started again. I cracked open my eyes. I closed them. The rustling continued in the early morning half-light.

“What the hell is that?”

“A raccoon? A snake?”

I cracked my eyes open again.

“Oh crap! I bet it’s a damn raccoon getting in our garbage can. Or maybe more mice living near our foundation.”

I squeezed them shut.

“Stay. Here.”

The rocks knocked against each other again and I imagined whatever it was scratching its way through the window screen and getting into our house. I was verging on panic.

“STAY!”

Like a tiny, not-quite-trained puppy.

I sat and listened to the creature. My timer went off — 10 whole minutes subjecting myself to sitting. I went to the window immediately. Spiderwebs and rocks and not much else. Then I heard the rocks knocking together again. I followed the sound to a large brownish rock amidst the piles; it moved. My raccoon, my snake, my mice, my monster — was a toad. A beautifully camouflaged toad.

I laughed at myself and my fearful mind. I smiled at the toad.

I like to think he smiled back.

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