One crisp October morning, I bundled the big kids up and sent them toward the door with strict instructions to stay in our front yard until I got my shoes on and joined them. I dashed upstairs to rummage through my sock drawer, and as I headed back down the stairs, I heard Meg's voice, yelling. She sounded alarmed. "Mommy, there's a dead frog in our yard!"
A... dead... frog?
"MOMMY, there's a dead FROG in our yard!"
"OK, Honey, just a minute!" I pulled on socks, shoes, jacket, and skipped out the door. Meg and Matthew were standing on the grass looking uncertainly toward the bush by our front stoop. I headed over to investigate.
It was not dead.
It was not a frog.
It was a sleepy, warty, brown toad. He was fairly large--perhaps a little bigger than my fist. I guess he was camping out under the kids' riding toys for the night, and when they pulled the toys up... he was exposed. Thinking that Meg and Matthew would be entertained--or at least intrigued--by a closer look, I picked up a dried stem from our flower bed. "Come here, guys!" I called. "It's a toad. Look!" I gave it a gentle poke.
The toad stirred sleepily, then seemed to crouch slightly. Hop. At least, I guess it was supposed to be a hop. More like a shuffle really--it barely cleared the ground. But that was more than enough for Matthew. He let out a scream of absolute terror and went tearing toward the sidewalk, where he stood shrieking with horror. Initially, Meg seemed uncertain whether to laugh or follow her brother's example. Eventually she made her way a little closer to the toad and watched its grumpy, reluctant retreat under the bush. We haven't seen it since.
And the point of retelling this encounter with nature? Nothing, really, except to state that a large toad is an incredibly ugly creature. These pictures don't do justice to its warty, pimply, thick-skinned, lumpy ickyness. Oh, I know that God called all of His creation good, and that the toad is part of creation and therefore good too. But frankly, this is one of those times where I just think: If You say so, Lord. If You say so.