For the last couple of weeks Millie has been very interested in plants and insects. This new discovery, combined with her love of collecting things, has launched our outdoor/nature time to the next level. We are very lucky that our playground (which is about 2 blocks from our house!) is nestled on the outskirts of Depew Park. The playground is surrounded by trees with a great hill to one side, and the pond is right across the road. We visit the playground just about every morning, which inevitably leads to climbing the hill, collecting bits of nature (then tossing them back when we need a free hand), and exploring the pond and grass.
Well, this morning we strolled into the playground just as the Parks Dept. guys pulled up in their truck. Millie had a nice time lounging in her stroller while eating some leftover leek and onion tart. We chatted with the guys and watched them take out a piece of equipment that needed to be fixed. Then Millie ran around a bit, went on the swing, climbed a rock. She walked back over to her stroller and started to pull it out onto the pathway (to push up and down the sidewalk). You can imagine our surprise when we saw a tiny gray toad sitting on the stroller! Thank goodness we saw him, or I imagine he would have gotten smooshed one way or another.
We were so delighted we didn't know what to do! He was absolutely beautiful. He looked so delicate that I was afraid he would be hurt if he tried to jump down by himself onto the sidewalk. Millie was thrilled. She kept bending down and pointing at him, straightening back up to look at me and gasp, then bending down to point again. I couldn't get too many pictures because I was trying to supervise the pointing and excitement :)
I tried to cup my hand around him to encourage him to step onto it, but every time I tried he tucked his little arms in and winced! I asked Millie to find a big leaf for him and she brought back a yellow tuliptree leaf. We offered it to him to climb onto, but he declined. Millie had a very strong reaction to all of this and actually began to cry when we couldn't get him onto the leaf. I hugged her and she sobbed into my shoulder for a minute. It was very moving. Next thing we knew he had jumped down and I was able to gently get him into my hand. We climbed the hill and found a safe spot near a tree to let him go. When I opened my hand he walked onto my finger and didn't want to get down. I let him relax for a minute and Millie walked off to explore. I took a picture of the toad on my finger, then called to Millie. I told her I was going to let him go, so now was a good time to say goodbye if she wanted to. She came toddling back over, bent down towards my hand, and kissed the toad! He jumped down and headed towards the tree.
Millie and I walked back down the hill to our stroller. I think we were both feeling a little serene after our toad encounter, and we decided to walk the longer way home past the pond. She loves to walk by herself now and even pushes her own stroller down the road. We walked very slowly, stopping every two steps or so to pick up a leaf or watch an ant.
top: Tiny Mr. Toad
bottom: Hello in there! Anybody home?