A Walk with Toads and Goblins

Calm Lake Harriet at DuskDusk comes more quickly now and I like that.  It doesn’t necessarily shorten the time for my walks, but it does change the mood.

Tonight I started easily enough walking along the shoreline of Lake Harriet with everyone else.  Charlie was there again painting, drawing, and dreaming, lost in his world while sitting quietly among all of us.  In fact I startled him when I said hello.  He recovered well enough, smiled, and went on with his work.

Lake Harriet  ArtistDown at the Lake Harriet Band Shell several hundred people were gathered for a 9/11 tribute.  I only stopped for a moment.  Good crowd.  I wouldn’t be missed.  I wouldn’t be noticed either.

I wanted to get into the woods.

The peace and solitude of the woods, even in the middle of an urban neighborhood, rarely can be beat.  In another month the woods will be in autumn perfection.  I can hardly wait.  Until then the woods modestly ready itself for change.  Dry leaves fall from windblown branches and plants dry and droop a little.  Otherwise the woods remain rich and dark with summer green, although it surely is fading.  I’ll wait patiently.

I did see a group of deer early on my walk and later scared up two healthy bucks.  I was surprised to see two bucks paling around together at this time of the year, but I suppose they do.  They sprung from nowhere and bounded off together through a thick growth of buckthorn.  Silently.

Picture One

Picture One

Birds are quiet this time of the year, too, and tonight the wind was light.  Most of what I heard was not the woods at all, but songs sung at the band shell.  It gave the walk a patriotic soundtrack it otherwise lacks.  I’m grateful for that…the lack, that is.

Silence is good, solitude, too, but soon the woods will be visited by druids and warlocks and other people who like to mope around in hooded capes feigning mystery.  I’m not sure what they do in the woods, but I am sure they do it with some plan and purpose.  And I have an idea of what that is…

Picture 2

Picture Two

Note this, more than anything else I have seen an abundance of toads this year.  They are constantly underfoot.  Tiny little toads, no bigger than an inch long from nose to tail in most cases.  They are everywhere and everywhere with attitude, hopping with human-like merriment…or maybe a bit of a stagger if not swagger.

Picture Three

Picture Three

Take a look at the pictures to the right.  Picture One is a toad on the path., puffed up and proud; you can almost see his arms confidently akimbo, thumbs in pocket.   Right below, Picture Two, shows a smug looking toad on a log, the only toad I have seen on a log and disappointing that he was not on a mushroom (aka a “toad stool”), but oh well…

Now you have probably already noted something strange about these pictures.  Very strange.  The toads are not there!  Yes, these are indeed unusual toads, they disappear in a camera!

Which brings me back to the druids, warlocks, and whatnots that wander the woods in the autumn season.  My guess — and it is a good one — is that the druids are warlocks and other spooks are changing people into toads!

Druid Talisman

Druid Talisman in the Woods

Need more evidence that the woods are “enchanted”, as they might say?  Take a look at Picture Three.  Here is a photo of a minotaur leg wrestling a satyr while two unicorns sit back and sip tea.

Ha!  I’m just having fun with you know.  There are no unicorns.  I made up that part.  In fact I haven’t seen a unicorn since that Bondage-A-Go-Go party back in 2008.  There were several at that party.  (NB Those unicorns gulp their chardonnay in the morning.)  But anyway, back again to our nature walk…the woods are indeed alive with life and mystery.  You just have to let your imagination help you see what’s just beyond the eye and hear what is just beneath the silence.

These “toads” — I think they’re spellbound humans — don’t seem eager to escape their transformation.  When I see a toad he quickly scampers for cover.  You would expect a cursed toad to come pleading for help, but not these guys.  They happily hop, hop, hop into the weeks…or even disappear, as we have just seen in Photos 1 and 2.  So maybe being a toad in the woods isn’t all that bad, but I advise caution around snakes.

Speaking of which, I didn’t see many if any snakes this year.  That strikes me as odd.  Plenty of turtles — and toads — but no snakes.  Perhaps that’s why there are so many toads?  One has to wonder.  The answer:  Probably yes unless, of course, the warlock theory holds up.

Your thoughts?

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