Spending a weekend with my delightful nieces, Pinwheel and Noodle, reminds me that I am quite happy to leave reproduction and child rearing to others so I can enjoy the fruits of their labor. The girls love the LIttle House That Could as much as I do, and together we celebrated a string of glorious late spring days. There was swimming, hair braiding, flower picking, tree climbing, and pie baking. There were barefoot frolics and savage squabbles. But some of my happiest moments were reading aloud from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, one of my favorite childhood books. It brought me back to those dreamy days of boundless imagination and exploration.
The girls found a toad in the pool one morning and I was summoned (as the family toad-catcher) to rescue it.
"She's in the shallow end! Go get her!" they shrieked, hopping up and down with excitement.
The unheated pool looked pretty uninviting.
"Uh...I'm sure she's fine. She's just taking a little swim." Nevermind the dead toads we fish out of the scupper every weekend.
"Nooooo! Go get her, Auntie! She's getting tired and she can't get out!"
Christ. Realizing I had clearly lost the battle, I waded into the pool and watched as the toad made its way into the deep end, necessitating a cold water diving expedition. Emerging from the pool victorious, my triumph mitigated only slightly by a stream of urine trickling from the terrified toad, I let the girls hold our tiny captive and then release her into the garden. She came back several times to visit us. Toads are sociable creatures, just like little girls.