Watch where you step

Why do I look at the ground when I take walks?  I mean, I look all around me, but I don’t actually walk without looking down.  Why do you think that is?

Because I could easily miss, or worse, step on something like this, something so tiny and unnoticeable that I might crush it beneath me before even realizing what has happened.

A baby toad hiding amongst dead leaves

While the exact species remains unknown to me, this is a toad, a very tiny, baby toad who chanced into my path as I walked early this morning here at the lake.  Had I not been looking down, I assure you I would have broken it beneath me like a twig.  I could never have forgiven myself for such a crime.

Either a Gulf Coast toad (Bufo valliceps) or a coastal plain toad (Bufo nebulifer), this young’un knew precisely where to hide.  It became nearly invisible in the meager light of dawn as it sat motionless amongst dead leaves surrounded by towering grass that barely rose high enough to caress my ankles.

And you wonder why I look down when walking. . .

Even in the office I scarcely look up unless I think about it.  I’ve grown so accustomed to watching each step, to ensuring my footfalls take place only where I do no harm, that even in urban settings I still find myself looking down more often than not.

This is certainly true when at home.  With five cats ruling the roost, I’ve occasionally squashed a bit of tail or nipped a toe with my own pontoons, and all because I didn’t watch where I placed each foot before allowing the full weight of me to rest upon it.  I hate the sound of a mad cat screaming at me for being a lumbering ape, not to mention the thought that I might have caused one of them harm.

And so I step carefully, both inside and outside, with my full attention focused on where each footstep ultimately will rest.

A baby toad hiding on dead leaves

I tried to get some natural light photos of the toad.  It didn’t exactly work.

The sun’s light barely scratched the underbelly of the sky.  Add to that the minuscule size of the toad.  I had to put the camera on the ground and lie next to it in an attempt to take photos.

I failed miserably.  With gusty winds battering me no matter how low I got, every image without the flash carried with it the wiggle of a man tossed about by summer’s last desperate attempt to stay in control.

Still, that one didn’t turn out too badly when its size was reduced.

The other trade-off in the attempt can be seen below.

Dead leaves resting amidst green grass

That’s right, poppets, I caught one decent image of autumn’s rush into Texas.  These fallen leaves huddled together in the cool morning beneath still green grass.

How magical the change in seasons can be when one stops to take notice.

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