I've heard that frogs are a good indicator of an area's ecological well-being. If the frog population in your part of the world is thriving and going largely unmutated, things must be in balance.
So I wonder what it means for northern Kentucky that a large toad hopped out of our juniper and onto my foot yesterday.
On the one hand, it indicates a potentially large population. We've lived here 8 years now and never seen an amphibian of any sort in our yard, not even those tiny little frogs that I've seen hop onto suburban driveways in other neighborhoods.
On the other hand...well, we have no body of water close by. There isn't a pond or marsh in walking distance for a human that I'm aware of. And last I heard, frogs need water. So where the hell did this big boy come from?
It was alarming in many ways. There I was, weeding our landscaping, which had gotten out of control while we were on vacation. I felt something hard whack against the side of my foot. I figured a rock rolled out of the bushes, which didn't make sense, but was the only thing I could think of.
Until I looked down and saw that the "rock" was breathing.
I didn't holler as loudly as you might expect.
I stood there for a minute, marvelling. It wasn't a tiny little frog. It was a brown, warty toad as big as my fist. The kind of thing you see in illustrated fairy tales that usually end with a lovelorn damsel puckering up in hopes of finding a prince.
I wasn't about to try this.
We've had a lot of rain here. In fact, right before the toad leapt at me, I had trudged through our side yard wondering how in the world things were ever going to dry out enough in that swamp land for Jason to mow. This July was the coolest on record in the tri-state area. It has not been a normal Kentucky summer.
Troubling even before one finds unusual animals species in her front yard.
I know weather is cyclical, and this all might be some kind of normal fluctuation, but I see Mr. Toad's not-so-wild ride as a harbinger for bad things to come. I've never seen a summer so not-summery in my 35 years. The reality of climate change has hit me (literally) in the form of a misplaced bullfrog.