Friday, July 17, 2009

Curious Neighbor

It isn't unusual that I would be brushing my teeth on the deck. After all, that's where we brush the dog's teeth. I just have a hard time standing in one place for two minutes while waiting for the electronic toothbrush to signal that my teeth have had enough for another night, and so I amble about as I brush. Last night I strolled out onto the deck and took in the night sky, the C note from my Sonicare Elite in harmony with the music of the spheres.

As I returned to the door, a strange, dark lump at the top of the basement stairs drew my gaze. Being the two-legged companion of a cat and two dogs, I pay close attention to unexpected dark lumps on the floor. But since I don't wear my glasses when brushing my teeth on the deck - that would be strange - I wasn't able to identify the lump in the faint evening light.

Suddenly, as I opened the door, the lump exploded into action. It hurled itself down the stairway, and stuck, as if by magic, on the stairwell wall. A tree frog! My gurgled, foamy exclamation of surprise got Sally's attention in the bedroom. "There's a frog on the wall!" Even though she couldn't quite make out the words that I carefully articulated while trying not to drool toothpaste on my shirt, she knew something was afoot. She joined me at the top of the stairs, and I directed her attention to the lump clinging to the wall several feet away.

My family members know that I have been challenged by amphibians and reptiles in the past:

  • Mikey, the pound of toad, whose misshapen form appeared before my eyes like a demon from the deep one January morning in the basement sump while I was doing the laundry
  • the baby bull snake who hid in his box so convincingly that I nearly destroyed the house looking for his hideout, and subsequently attained earth escape velocity when I stepped on a piece of surgical tubing in the middle of the night, thinking I had found him
  • The snake I found on a walk in Lincoln - it's lifeless length showed signs of having been run over by a bicycle. I put it in a plastic bag and stuck it in my pocket where it got all warmed up....
Sally caught the little tree frog on just the second try, and released it at the margin of the back yard, where the vegetation is thicker than in our basement. As I had been watering the grass last evening, I imagine that our curious little visitor had followed the hose to the house, and was heading upstream like the mighty salmon. If Sally hadn't stopped it, it might have made it all the way to the water meter to spawn.

My dentist would be proud that I didn't let the excitement of the moment alter my dental hygiene protocol.


  1. I would always prefer amphibian visitors over insectoid ones, such as fleas. Occassionally I find a reason to remove the arachnids in my house when I am bothered by them, but they obligingly keep down the flies etc.

    After some rain this previous weekend, I had occasion to note a large population of slugs on a walk I took, followed by a population of snails, which I find more acceptable for some reason. However, I am unsure where the preference comes from, other than that I can pick up snails without getting all slimy. I vaguely recall learning that their slime has a similar presence of long chain sugars, as our mucus does, which gives it that consistency. Isn't life interesting?

  2. What a great story to start my day with. I hope this isn't the only time I'll laugh!