Horned Toads of My Youth

I spent the best years of my boyhood living on a ranch in the Texas hill country.  Those not from Texas and most who even live in Texas have never seen all the diverse areas of the Great State, and the hill country is one of those.  At one time wild and populated with game of all sorts, it was a heaven for certain First Peoples.  Rivers and streams abounded with fish even up to my boyhood days; deer and turkey hunting still remain a major “industry.”

As a boy growing up on 640 acres of woods and hills and gullies, and a major river running 100 yards from our house, I too was in heaven.  I got to know all the “bugs”…..huge red ant mounds, red wasps that taught me not to mess with them, huge dark red millipedes and the ones I really hated to be close….huge centipedes; spiders of all sorts, grasshoppers as big as tiny helicopters it seemed; and, lizards of all varieties.  I used to love to chase lizards with my little mongrel dog Amigo.  He loved the “sport” and though he never caught one, he loved the chase.  We ran a huge tree lizard up the side of an oak tree once and I jumped and grabbed it and got bitten for my effort.  Yes those big boys can bite.

But my favorite was the Texas horned toad, a most wonderful and mysterious creature that looks like it once probably was five feet tall “back in the day,” moving quietly between T-Rex’s feet.  These little guys were a star attraction for me.  While I caused the early demise of many green lizards, the horned toad was special.  A boy wanted to catch and keep it to look at.  I usually just caught and held them and studies their “weirdness” and I suppose they studied mine.

Today they are a vanishing specie, and that is sad.  So, just thought I would share this with you.



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