Nandi

I had a potted tomato plant on the porch in a little metal cage to keep the deer and rabbits off of it. I tend to buy 1 red cherry tomato plant per year and insert it into this cage i’ve constructed with a lid held on by keyring clips. There was a toad that appeared to come with the plant from the feed store i bought it at because it was inside the metal cage buried in the dirt in the pot. Every night it would hop out and eat insects that were attracted to the porch light and then return to bury itself in the wet dirt of the pot by sunrise. However, because it was in this metal cage, it never could hop very far from the pot. I decided to call him Oscar. I think i was pulling from sesame street a little bit…oscar the grouch had his trashcan and his lid and this toad was always half buried and peeking out of the pot. So Oscar lived on the porch and that seemed pretty normal to me. Toads were common at this time of year. I often found them sitting in the chicken water dispenser as if it was a hot tub and they frequently dug into potted plants to get out of the scorching sun during the day. At night they were everywhere in the yard, hopping about. They made unusually large turds for such a small animal. Down by the river you could hear them all making noise in chorus at sundown. Oscar was welcome to stay. However, one night i walked outside and saw a green leaf with eyes moving on my tomato plant. It wasn’t a leaf. It was Nandi. I had seen toads. I had never seen a tree frog as long as i’d lived in texas. Nandi appeared to be a cope’s gray tree frog. My tomatoes were getting eaten and Nandi was hanging out right on top of them. I wondered if Nandi was eating them and relocated Nandi to the grass. However, the frog came right back to where it had been and resumed its prior activity of hunting bugs. There were little green grasshoppers all over the plant and i was having mixed luck at killing them all. After a while i decided that Nandi was probably eating the grasshoppers and the grasshoppers had been eating the tomatoes. At sunrise Nandi was on the wall near the door frame of the house. The sun was rising and the yard was getting hot. Though we had been at odds during the night, i suspected we had a mutual purpose when it came to grasshoppers, and i knew Nandi would not survive if the sun hit the porch and the frog hadn’t moved. I grabbed Nandi, the cold slimy orange and cream legs and under belly squishing slightly in my hand, and let her jump from my hand, through the cage rungs, into the wet dirt of the tomato pot. Nandi was the first tree frog i’d ever met. Whether or not Nandi had anything to do with the chewed tomatoes, i wanted the frog to survive. So Oscar and Nandi went to bed for the day, burying themselves in the dirt. A toad and a tree frog sleeping in a tomato plant.

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