The road grader has thoughtfully dug a temporary pond in the road near the barn. Warm evenings finds the toads trilling near it. Mornings find strings of toad eggs in the pond.
I gather up the strings of eggs and move them into a rain barrel. Vehicles splash through the pond often dooming the eggs, if they stay in the pond. Even if the eggs hatch, the tadpoles will perish quickly. The vehicles stir up fine particles of mud that coat the egg strings and tadpole gills so that they suffocate.
The toads never seem to be visible. I do see them around from time to time. They live in my garden, around the house, in the woods. They come out after dark.
Tree frogs are different. They happily invade the rain barrels filling the air with their calls and the barrels with egg masses. They have gotten so used to us coming around, some sit and call posing for pictures.
The result is a big file of tree frog pictures and none of the toads. I needed pictures of toads for my picture book “Waiting For Fairies.”
Several of the wild denizens found in my yard appear in my picture book as part of the story. I had pictures of all of them except one.
The Missouri Department of Conservation guidebook to the “Reptiles and Amphibians of Missouri” has one picture. Some other guidebooks have drawings. I tried hard to remember toads I had seen over the years.
My saving grace is my casual drawing and painting style. Those true-to-life drawings and paintings are lovely, but not my style at all. So the toads made it into my picture book.
The sketches for the last two pages are done. The first color is on the pages. Other colors are mixed and ready for adding. Time is important in watercolor painting. Each layer must dry before the next is added.
Once the book is done, I will probably find some toad willing to pose for a picture.