With the advent of warm weather, the animals are out in earnest at my house. A rabbit has made her den under my compost pile (she runs off in terror every time I come near, which means I may have to start a new pile elsewhere.) A robin has made her nest under my back deck (and Mr. Robin screeches at me every time I walk outside...but I'm ignoring him, since I refuse to stop using my deck.) But the most amusing-slash-sad animal happening took place this morning. While going out to pull weeds (carefully staying away from Ms. Robin's new digs), I happened upon a toad. Sadly, Mr. Toad had taken his last wild ride. He was large, sprawled out, and dead.
I decided to give Mr. Toad a better place to hang out and scooped him up, intending to head for the compost pile (or as close as Ms. Rabbit will let me come) and fling him in that general direction. But then I noticed that the neighbor kids were watching me. Very, very closely.
My first thought: they planted Mr. Toad, wondering if I'd freak when I found him at the bottom of the deck stairs. My second thought (upon seeing their thoughtful expressions): they think I have a dead animal in my hand, but aren't sure. And they just might be the ones to freak.
This, naturally, is when my neighbor decides to come over and chat. Do you have any idea how it feels to have a conversation about things like perennials and your upcoming town election while knowing that you are hiding a DEAD TOAD in your hand? But no way was I going to excuse myself when her kids were right there, wondering what I'd found in the yard.
Finally, I was able to escape, fake toward the garden, then send Mr. Toad to a more appropriate resting place on the compost pile. Unfortunately—you guessed it—I got a little too close, and the flying toad body upset Ms. Rabbit but good.
On a brighter animal note, however: I'm about to be a mama! A black mini poodle puppy will be moving into Casa Niki next Thursday. In the meantime, I'm puppy-proofing the house and thinking of names appropriate for a happy, personable little girl.
My newest book, GODDESS GAMES (click the link to see the cover...didn't Simon & Schuster do a fabulous job?) arrives in stores next week, but I have to admit, I think the arrival of the puppy will be just as exciting! And I promise to post pictures when she arrives.