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 Created: 04/07/03


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This is the second section an article about Toad Night.
You can also view the first section and/or the final section.

April 7, 2003 – It happened 18 years ago on a warm spring night. March 28, 1985, a date we'll never forget. Lifelong city dwellers, we had relocated to the country less than 10 months earlier. We hadn't cut our urban ties; we still worked and socialized in the city. You could say we had one foot in the dirt and one foot on the concrete. In truth, we were still much more "city" than we were "country."

Big Night Out
That night it was late, very late. My husband and I had been to a dinner party in the city. It was one of those parties that went on and on because everyone was having such a good time. We were the first to leave because it was almost 1:00 AM and, after all, we had a long drive home. Heading out, the city streets gave way to the highway, the highway gave way to rural roads, and the rural roads led to our driveway. We passed through the big metal farm gate that marks the edge of our property line.

Almost home. We were tired and ready to crawl into bed. Our driveway was (and still is) a bumpy half-mile-long dirt and gravel road that winds its way through the woods. It was pitch black outside except for the car's headlights.

We'd gone past the first two bends when we first heard it. A kind of drone, I guess you could say, a low pulsing sound off in the distance. "What the heck is that?!" We stopped the car, rolled down the windows, and listened. Whatever it was, it was somewhere up ahead. We drove on, more slowly now, with a mixture of curiosity and apprehension. The sound was getting louder.

The last turn brought us closer to Kilmer Pond, the 8 acre spring-fed pond that lies in front of our house. We drove a few more yards. To our immediate left was the small open field that leads to the edge of the hardwood forest; to our right was the grassy area that gently slopes down to the water. Just beyond the pond, still some distance away, we could see our porch lights. Suddenly the headlights from our car picked up ghostly objects – lots of them. Eerily illuminated by our high beams, the road was chock full of bouncing toads, all of them moving in the direction of the water. The noise coming from the pond enveloped us; it was unbelievably loud.

For a moment we were completely stunned. We'd never seen anything like this. As we moved on, we realized were running over scores of toads. We considered stopping the car and walking the rest of the way to the house, but the thought of marching through a soup of hopping toads was just too creepy.

Arriving home, we hurried into the house, side-stepping a maze of toads on the way. Inside, even with the windows and doors closed, we could hear the reverberating call of the toads. We quickly changed clothes, grabbed a pair of flashlights, called the dogs, and headed out to the water. Kilmer Pond was definitely "ground zero." The shoreline was thick with singing – and mating – toads. Hundreds, possibly thousands, had congregated in and around the water's edge. Others were still hopping in from the adjacent woodlands. The sound was mesmerizing; in fact many of the toads seemed to be in a trance. We could pick them up and hold them in the palm of our hands while they sang, their throats inflated like balloons. Our eardrums actually seemed to vibrate inside our heads every time the toads around us reached a certain crescendo. It was a bizarre physical sensation. I can only imagine what it was like for the dogs.

Beam me up, Scotty
Later, after we had finally settled into bed, the house still pulsed with the sound of toads. As we lay there in the dark listening to it, my husband turned to me and said, "It sounds like there's a giant space ship hovering right over the pond, doesn't it?" We drifted off to sleep wondering if the toads would still be there in the morning.

So that, my friends, was how we spent our very first Toad Night. I wanted to share the story with you because it's something most people will never experience. There's more to tell, of course, but that'll have to wait for another day.

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