My neighbors Ralph and Lucy went to Home Depot to buy a tree 10 months ago. They hauled it home, put it in the corner of their room and were very pleased. That night they went to bed and in the dark heard a strange little chirping noise. Ralph went to investigate but saw nothing. The next night the same thing happened. On the third day he decided to give the tree a watering and put it in the shower. When he went to retrieve it, there on a branch was a tiny toad. “The size of the tip of Lucy’s pinkie.” Ralph says in his thick French accent. Ralph is very animated when he talks of the toad. He went to the pet store and they told him to feed her crickets. He found a low, rectangular, glass vase the crickets couldn’t jump out of and that toad learned to jump into. It sits under the tree right above the roots. A piece of pottery holding water sits next to the glass vase. Toad stopped calling out in the middle of the night. It even started sleeping behind the framed photo above the tree by day and then crawling down at dusk to the cricket bowl and water.
“What are you going to name it?” I said around December.
“Oh, we’re not going to name it. It’s not a pet.” Ralph assured me.
I nodded and knowing Ralph was very much into sustainability and I assumed homesteading so I said, “So, you’re just raising a pair of frogs legs just in case you want them for an appetizer?” He laughed and I let it be.
Throughout the winter, I would run into Lucy or Ralph as they carried a bag freshly filled with crickets. In April, they started talking about a 3 week trip they had planned to go back to Europe. Without missing a beat, I offered to feed the toad. They were pleased and relieved assuring me still that it wasn’t a pet. I nodded and in a months time sat in their living room taking notes on the care and cleaning of a toad.
“She eats 25 crickets every 3 days. She needs water and so does the plant.” Ralph tells me in earnest. Lucy whispers, “It’s OK if you kill her… really… it’s OK.”
I laugh and take notes. I love the idea of toad sitting and take to the challenge. My third day of duty I see Toad and she’s as big as a golf ball now. My Dad asks, “Where does she poop?” I don’t know. He is horrified that a toad is running free in their home. “I don’t mind waking to a cat in my bed at night but a toad would be too much!” I don’t think the toad is headed for anyone’s bed. What I do know is that she is completely tame to the point where she watches me from the rim of the plant pot as I put the crickets in the bowl. She jumps in after them when everything is put in place.
Lucy and Ralph emailed me from Europe three times to inquire about the toad. They didn’t seem to notice that I now refer to the toad as Toad. So much fuss that she deserves a name even as simple as Toad. I think she’s their pet but a part of me still fears they may serve a pair of fatted legs one night this winter….