My Chosen Spot Contest First Place Winner
A gray rain spattered dismally down on the dripping earth. Forlorn rivulets of water trickled through little gullies in the soil and were lost in the larger rushing streams of the ditches. Except for a few fall trees glowing against the overcast skies, the outdoors painted a dismal picture.
I had been contemplating trying the “My Chosen Spot” contest for a while. It sounded interesting. Interesting, that is, if I could think of some exotic place to watch for a week.
We don’t have anything very interesting to watch close to home. I mused to myself. No bears come to our bird feeder. No moose or cougars live around here, or, if cougars do, they sure are good at hiding. And since I’m not into birding much, I don’t know if any rare bird species live around here. But I would like to try it, so I might think of something yet.
I glanced out the window at the new barn we were building. I should watch Toad Hill for a week! I thought suddenly. Maybe I could at least learn some interesting stuff about toads. If I do it mostly in the evening, it won’t take too much of my time. And the rain might bring the toads out tonight even.
Now Toad Hill is nowhere exotic at all. In fact, it is merely a gentle gravel slope behind our barn. But I had dubbed it Toad Hill because nearly every evening when I walked across it, I met toads of all shapes and sizes.
So about 8:30 p.m. found me crunching across the gravel in search of toads. I shone my light around rocks and bushes. No toads. I wandered across the yard to a toad-abounding flower bed. No toads there either. “Even the toads stay inside when it rains,” I groaned.
I stooped and looked at the flower bed again. Two fat slimy somethings reposed on the rocks I had just lifted. Gross. THEY…WERE…SLUGS! I shuddered. Of all things I meet in my ramblings, I despise slugs the most. But tonight, I took a
They were slimy all right, no doubt about that. I shoved a yellow zinnia under one slug’s nose. It slithered onto the flower. Interesting. I shot some photos for a closer look. I was amazed at the slug…and myself! I almost liked it now, and it was actually almost beautiful!
By then it was time to go inside. I left the slugs in peace in the darkness and went to find my own bed.
The next couple of evenings I rambled through the dark again. It had rained some more, and the grass glittered as my light bounced over it. Raindrops and dewdrops shone on every leaf and blade of grass. The roses, bejeweled with dew, were breathtakingly beautiful.
Hundreds of earthworms snapped into the soil as my footsteps vibrated the ground. The rain had brought them out of their holes, maybe to go stargazing. They lay in the mud puddles, the dirt, and the grass. And no matter how softly I stepped, almost all of them popped back into their holes before I got close. I pounced and caught a more lethargic one before it could hide. It snapped out of its sleepy mood and wriggled frantically to escape. I set it free and watched it slide into a hole.
Suddenly a squat, warty toad hopped across my path. “Well, hello, Toady!” I chuckled. “Where has the whole toad clan been hiding out?”
He just blinked lazily at me.
I swiped a blue streak onto his back with some paint I had brought out for the purpose. “I want to know if I see you again,” I told him.
Several more times that week I ran across him hopping on his merry way. He seemed to be either an American toad or a common toad, but he was too lazy to tell me.
One evening as I shone my light over the zinnias, a cute little frog sat moon-bathing on a pink zinnia. I did not know what kind he was. However, he was not interested in getting to know me. He bade me goodbye and leaped deeper into the maze of leaves.
I took one last look at the creatures I had seen. The earthworms were out to stargaze again, and the slugs were still sliming over their rocks. The frog had vanished. Toady was hiding.
I really had not seen anything exotic the whole week. Just some common, boring creatures. But wait! They actually weren’t just common and boring. They all had a place to fill. The earthworms, though mostly unseen, did an important work in the soil. The other creatures filled their spots too. And each dewdrop, insect, and creature was uniquely created by God. And He knows each one.
I turned to go inside. A ponderous warty shape jumped across my path. I smiled in the darkness. “Good night, Toady.” I had a place to go fill too, however small it might be. And God knows me, too.