Wednesday, September 05, 2012
Worms, Snails and Toads – Oh My!
Growing up in New York, the worst thing that came out during rainstorms were earthworms. I would see them slithering on the ground and try not to step on them. They were gross-looking to me, sometimes huge and blood-colored. But even if they appeared to swarm all across the sidewalk, I managed not to step on them. Once at a school bus stop, a classmate unknowingly stomped on a worm while she was chatting away. I watched as the free half of the worm wriggled violently next to her sneaker, but I didn’t say anything. Would it be too weird to say, “Um, you’re stepping on a worm!”
During graduate school, I lived in the Bay Area of California. During the rainy season, snails would come out and invade the sidewalks. I had never seen such a thing before. Sometimes, there would be so many snails, that there would be no place to step without crushing one. This freaked me out to no end, I couldn’t stand the CRUNCH of a fragile snail shell under my foot. But sometimes the snail cover was so dense that there was no way to avoid them. When that was the case, I’d look up to the sky and walk as if I were blind. I’d cringe at every crunch, but just kept repeating “There’s no place like home” and kept going. It was extremely traumatic for me.
Now in New England, the toads swarm the roads when it rains in the late summer and fall. When you drive at night, they look like leaves on the ground until they start jumping. Sometimes there are so many toads in the road that you must be running over some of them as they jump in your headlights. Just this evening, I saw what looked like a leaf in my driveway suddenly jump two feet into the air, at which I slammed on my brakes. It was a good sized toad, about three inches long, but not as big as the chipmunks which I routinely run over in our countryside. I’m not sure if it’s a throwback to my worm and snail days, but the toads totally freak me out. It reminds me of the line, There's a Toad in the Road, We Will Have to Unload! from A Crack in the Track.
Am I crazy or does the rainy wildlife get to you as well?