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I started last Thursday the way I usually do.
I hit the snooze more times than I care to admit. I finally get up.
I go downstairs to drink some milk and take some vitamins.
I glance out my back door to see if (a) the bird feeder is still in the tree (or if the squirrels got it down again) and (b) to see if it needs to be refilled.
This morning, the punk squirrels have managed to get the new “squirrel-proof” feeder out of the tree again. It’s lying on its side in the grass. One of the squirrels is sitting there next to it, happily munching away, working his little hands and filling himself up.
There are a few birds on the finch feeder.

And there’s a toad at the edge of the patio, within just a few inches (6 or less) of the squirrel.

And he looks funny. Funny strange. His color is weird. He looks kind of beige. Most toads around here are dark green-gray.

Then I notice a series of dark reddish spots on the patio. The spots look distinctly like blood on concrete. The largest spot is at the end farthest away from the door. It’s about three times as large as the other spots. The spots start in the middle of the patio, extend a couple of feet, then stop. So I’m thinking “what the….?” and “who’s been bleeding?”

Then I get a better look at the toad.

He’s sitting at the edge of the patio, about a foot or more beyond that last large spot.

But he’s sitting in an even bigger spot that looks wet. Then I realize he has only 1/4 of one of his back legs. One leg is gone from what would be mid-thigh down. So, I’m thinking he’s dead since he doesn’t move when I open the patio door.

Then I got close to him and he moved. He didn’t hop (obviously) but he was able to push himself around. He pushed himself off the edge of the patio into the grass. He stayed close to the patio’s edge, though.

When he moved, I noticed that, in addition to 3/4 of his back right leg being gone, his other foot was missing.

As I moved around, filling the bird feeder, he pushed himself around a few times and seemed to be doing okay with it.

But I knew he was in big trouble. If I’d had any idea how to put him out of his misery, I would have done it.

Instead, I finished what I was doing as fast as possible so as not to stress the poor thing any worse. Then I left for work.

And I thought about that toad all morning long. I kept wondering what happened to him and why, if something had attacked him, hadn’t just gone ahead and eaten him entirely. It really bothered me. More than I can describe. I just can’t stand the idea of something suffering so much before it dies. I kept my fingers crossed all day that he would go hide somewhere and die as quickly as possible. I was worried he’d be attacked again.

And, for some reason, that injured and dying toad seemed to be an omen of bad things.

And, that day, my manager at work was laid off. Someone who I really enjoyed working with and for, who was a touchstone and a great person to bounce ideas off of. I’m really going to miss that someone. I don’t know if I’ll ever have that kind of relationship with a manager/supervisor/boss again – it will be a hard relationship to match in the future. I am sad.

So I guess the toad was an omen.

Oh, and when I came home from work, he was gone.


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