A Boy and His Toadlets
When it comes to nature, there is nothing that pleases my son more than small creatures. One of my earliest photos of Luca shows him as a baby, playing with a pair of beetles. Even then he knew how to handle them, his fingers gentle but sure.
Once, when he was six years old and we had just arrived at the Inca ruins of Pisac, Luca spotted something and wandered off to investigate. We grown-ups were still dithering around the car, checking we had our hats and water and toilet paper and sun screen. When he began shouting, we all thought something terrible had happened. He was almost hysterical, jumping up and down, literally unable to speak.
I rushed towards him and put a hand on his shoulder, ready to utter words of comfort. But he shrugged it off and pointed at his feet. "Look!"
It was a scorpion, rust-red and glossy, bustling across the tarmac. Luca was ecstatic.
There was a crab phase, too. And an obsession with crayfish. But Luca has always liked amphibians best of all.
On Sunday morning we headed to the river again (it's becoming a favourite haunt of ours). There's always something interesting to see there. A week ago it was the skull of a dog and a small catfish, very much alive. This time our Jack Russell flushed a rat.... and Luca, now ten years old, found toadlets. Hundreds of them. Here's the conclusion of this story in photos: