Posts Tagged ‘frogs’

American Green Tree Frog, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

American Green Tree Frog, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


Is green Envy’s hue?
Or simply bumps on the skin
of a scared tree frog.


Post Script:  Can’t seem to get moving this week. After we had to let Chaco go last Thursday, the only thing that seems to sooth me is Nature. Hence, the American Green Tree Frog. On Summer Solstice, Liz accidentally brushed this little guy off a glass table filled with blooming plants; she thought it was a leaf. When she screamed, he suddenly leaped off the tip of her palm and on to the deck. After the initial shock, I caught him in a glass coffee mug so I could safely let him go in the garden.


Eye To Frog Eye, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Eye To Frog Eye, Minneapolis, Minnesota,
June 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey.
All rights reserved.


The Frog Moon came late on the heels of a dry Spring. I think Frog is one of Liz’s totems. I rarely see them in our yard or gardens. But Liz seems to bump into them everywhere. It turns out our little green friend may be with us for a while — the average lifespan of a frog is 4 to 15 years.

 You can listen to the American Green Tree Frog and read Weird Frog Facts at Frogland: All About Frogs.


-posted on red Ravine, Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

-related to posts: WRITING TOPIC – TOADS & FROGS, A Celebration Of GREEN On red Ravine…, What Is Your Totem Animal?, Cracking Envy (Or How I Learned To Stop Romancing A Deadly Sin), haiku 2 (one-a-day)

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Green on Brown, the elusive frog in the big irrigation ditch makes a rare appearance on July 15, 2008, photo © 2008 by Jim. All rights reserved.

green marooned on brown
or is it my ship that’s wrecked?
i wonder as you leap

related to posts haiku (one-a-day) and WRITING TOPIC – TOADS & FROGS.

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Their suction cup feet, I remember photos of tree frogs in National Geographic and how I fell in love with them, with their oversized toes. For years I had frog love, tiny tree frog love.

Once when I was a girl I captured a baby toad and made it a home in a shoebox. I filled it with cut grass and dirt, sliced slits into the top of the box, set the toad inside and slid the box under my bed. Days later I went to check on the baby toad. I pulled out the box and found the toad inside, dead and dried. Like the smashed ones we used to pick up on the road, it only took a day or two for them to dry out, paper cut-outs of frogs. I couldn’t believe I’d killed something so small and innocent.

I did the same thing once with a newborn cat, put it in a shoebox in a closet at Grandma’s. We went to the horse races that day, and when we got home I ran back to check on my kitty. I found it, suffocated on the toilet paper I’d stuck inside the box to keep the cat warm. It had sucked the tissue, as if a mother’s teet, looking for milk.

My girls don’t have that same desire to hold on to animals forever. Animals were exotic things to me. I hoarded them the way some people hoard objects. Now we’re surrounded by animals; no need to keep them in shoeboxes under your bed or in your closet.

Toads and frogs. They seemed so pervasive in my childhood, yet now when I try to remember them, nothing seems to come.

I remember walking in squares in the zendo, listening to Natalie say, Let it come to you, let the words and memories come to you. I remember thinking how liberating that idea was, after struggling with my writing, stuck in a place of wanting to find a gem, a story to tell. I wanted to be as clever as the person who wrote, “Sorrow is an onion, not even a mild yellow one.” Or the person who described her daughter building an envelope out of paper and tape. I wanted to cordon off my story, a snapshot of my world. Nothing came, nothing comes now.

Once Dee and Em caught two baby toads on the ditch. We made a terrarium for them out of an old aquarium. We put in a pond made from the top of a Cool Whip container, blue and green aquarium rocks, and dirt from the yard.

I watched the toads for hours. They were as big as the tip of my thumb. We caught them ants, small black ones, and those tiny bugs that scatter as if by magic, disappear by jumping when you pick up a rock lodged into damp dirt.

The toads didn’t find the first few meals we gathered for them. The tiny jumping bugs jumped away. The black ants crawled up the glass and out the oxygen slit in the top of the terrarium.

Then we had a flying beetle invasion. They were small beetles, teeny tiny, striped white brown, maybe black. They swarmed at the door to the garage, and we caught a huge amount, seventy or a hundred with just five minutes’ work. We emptied the beetle container into the terrarium, and the toads started to eat.

They stayed in one place, each its own, and waited for the beetles to come to them. When the toad would spot a beetle, it would become alert, creeping slowly toward the bug until zap, out came the tongue like flypaper.

I was frustrated after a while, seeing as how the beetles had gathered in the corners of the terrarium. The toads stayed in their spots in the middle, waiting for the beetles to come to them. I tried herding the toads to where the beetles were, but as soon as my hand was out of the way, they’d hop back to the middle. The toads still ate plenty of beetles, but I wanted a feast.

I’m thinking now that toads are living the life I should be living. Slow, patient. Rewarding, not piggy. Not moving toward something. Waiting for something to come.

related to post  WRITING TOPIC – TOADS & FROGS.

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I pulled the little frog out of the metal, feather shaped case where she is stored. A Zuni carving, a fetish, a gift from two friends who have traveled to the Southwest many times over the last 20 years. Traditional storage is clay. But I like her inside the feather.

The frog is carved from serpentine, and has 5 small pieces of turquoise on its back. And 2 pieces for the eyes that fall in front of the rough outcroppings behind them, the parotoid glands. It’s the place where they store their secretions, sometimes poisonous, released when they are stressed. There are 7 pieces of turquoise, total. The frog fits comfortably in my hand or pocket.

Frog is about cleansing, refilling the well. And purging negative energies, people, places, and things that no longer serve the higher good. It’s a good time for me to carry her. When my friends gave the Zuni frog to me a few decades ago, I couldn’t relate to her purpose. I was more connected to the 7-year mysteries and cycles of the Lynx and the Snowshoe Hare, or the aerial view through the eyes of a Red-Tailed Hawk. Something as grounded as a frog, a tadpole, a pollywog, I had never been drawn in that direction.

That’s not true of Liz. I think Frog is one of her totems. Last weekend when she was mowing the lawn, I heard the lawnmower come to a dead stop – she bent down gently, and picked up a toad that was crossing her path, then carried him, cupped in her hands, over to the neighbor’s yard. I was looking out the window at them. The next thing I knew, he had the toad cupped in his hands and they were chatting about the release to freedom.

Later, after seeing ybonesy’s New Mexico photographs of toads, I asked Liz what color the Minnesota toad was. “Dark, toad-colored,” she said.

Frogs breathe through their skin. Tadpoles have tails they lose in adulthood (not unlike the lowering and flattening of the human butt in middle-age). The mythology of Zuni afterlife takes them, not underground, but deep under a lake where frogs, tadpoles, fish, and other water creatures protect and keep them safe. Frogs connect and restore.

I grew up with many superstitions about frogs – warts if you touch their backs or they secrete their fluids on you. I still cringe a little when I go to pick one up. But none of that is true. Fairytales from the storytellers of yore. I have never kissed a frog. But when I was out playing one sweaty summer day, a neighborhood boy named Buddy, who went to the same elementary school, blew one up with a firecracker. I’ll never forget that sound.

It’s been raining and thunder storming all week. I’ve been thinking about the frog’s association to the cleansing rains. Unlike the Southwest, it rains often and for long periods of time in Minnesota. It is green and wet and lush. Frogs and toads are everywhere. I’m listening to them as I tap these letters out on black keys, Frog resting quietly on the keyboard in front of me. He looks more like a horned toad. The serpentine is mottled, dark brown mixed with a cream yellow. I just realized I called him a him; earlier in this write, I called him a her. S/he is androgynous.

I’m going to carry her in my pocket for the weekend. Protection for when the green tornado skies belt out the siren song of the Midwest storm corridor. Mom called a few minutes ago to see if we were okay. She said there’s a lot of red on her screen indicating turbulence over south central Minnesota. For me, sitting here staring out the window, it draws its own picture of swaying, rattling oak leaves, frog choruses croaking from the pond, chimes going crazy, banging on the deck, and the remnants of last weekend’s storm piled in the front fire pit ring of Jade Creek rocks.

The 5th day of gray. Last night at the poetry group, thunder rumbled after one woman read the first Rita Dove poem. And it rumbled again when we sat in the silence. We remarked later how it sounded like an airplane, high above the horizon. Then the rain came, pummeling the grass outside the alcove windows. It was the perfect night for poetry. And after Rita Dove read Geometry, after passing around Gary Soto’s moving postcard, after hot tea and chocolate, we walked outside to see a pink-hued, rosy green sky, daylight filtering through streetlamp midnight.

And I thought of Frog, or maybe Toad, burrowing into the earth, reclaiming the 120 frog species we have lost since the early 80’s, waking us up with frozen spring rains, hiding from the cold in the Arctic Tundra. Back down to earth in humble Minnesota. Reclaiming the green sky slickness of Frog, the bumpy dry, water tank skin of the toad, the hundreds of thousands of lakes, calling me home.

-posted on red Ravine, Friday, June 6th, 2008

-related to posts:  WRITING TOPIC – TOADS & FROGS, Green Is As Green Does, PRACTICE — Pink Frog Moon – 15min

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Look, Mom…Kermit! Em holding one of two toads she caught
last week. Photos © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

Poor frogs. They get a bad rep:

       Don’t touch ’em, you’ll get warts!

       Ew, they’re slimy, they’re squishy, their skin is bumpy.

       Ugly ol’ toad!

And then there’s the whole fairy tale about the princess who has to muster up enough courage to kiss a horrid toad in order to get the prince. As if kissing a frog is bad enough to build a whole fairy tale around it!


Think back to your childhood. I bet frogs and toads made their fair share of appearances. Boys using frogs to scare girls, or boys tormenting frogs to make girls cry. Or the girl who picks up frogs, no problem, and leaves the boys marveling at how cool she is.

Don’t forget 10th grade Biology. Those intestines you were wading around in with your tweezers? Most likely a frog. Or toad.

Speaking of, do you know the difference?

Class, frogs are amphibians. Can you say “am-phib-i-an”? And the toad is a type of frog.

Quick Facts: Frogs need to live by water. They have smooth skin, narrow bodies, and long hind legs (good for hopping). Toads don’t need to live near water to survive (although they enjoy it when they do, which I can tell by their singing), have bumpy skin, and are wider than frogs.

Also, have you ever heard of anyone eating “toad legs”? No, of course not! They’re too short to bother cooking up. Because of those short legs, toads run or take short hops instead of long, frog hops. 

p.s., Don’t ever eat a toad, as its skin lets out a bitter taste and smell that burns the eyes and nostrils.


Ah, the poor misunderstood frog-slash-toad. It’s actually a cool critter. An important part of the food chain, the frog eats mosquitos and other annoying insects.

In Japan frogs are said to bring good luck. And have you ever heard the saying “raining frogs”? Native Americans believe that frogs bring rain. In India, frogs are symbolic of thunder, and in ancient Egypt, frogs were representative of resurrection, rebirth. Ribbit.

Frog Joke:

Q: What kind of shoes do frogs wear?
A: Open toad.

You know where this is going. You can end it now by whipping out your pen, setting your timer for 15 minutes, and writing every single thing you know about frogs. Or toads. Or frogs and toads. Froads. Togs.

Either way, start writing. Please. Before I tell the one about the frog in the mortuary who croaked…

Hurry! Write.

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Green Frog Near Indria, August 2006, photo © 2006-2008 by Skywire. All rights reserved.

Guardian Green Frog of Indria, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 7th, 2006, photo © 2006-2008 by Skywire. All rights reserved.

Green is as green does. I wouldn’t be nearly as green without Liz pushing me along. Now that I live in a house rather than an apartment, I see things in a new light – it’s luscious green. I didn’t have many choices in apartment living. I recycled into a bag under the sink and carted it out to the brown plastic bin once a week. The rest was decided by the landlord who happened to be a realty company. I didn’t have a lot of maintenance. Things have changed.

On Earth Day, the local news told me our carbon footprints are sinking into a quagmire. We emit 30% more carbon in the last 15 years. And out of planes and boats and trains, forget miles to the gallon; we are talking gallons to the mile. For a family of 3 to fly to London requires 50% more carbon than driving your car for a whole year.

But enough stats. Here’s what Liz helps me to do around our house to stay green:

  • Paperless billing – no brainer.
  • Pay bills online – another no brainer.
  • Compost – we put a composter together a few years ago. The hardest part was finding a spot out of nose length of the neighbors. The city offered the bins to people at a discounted rate as a green promotion. Once a week, in go all the egg shells, carrot tops, French Roast coffee grounds, brown biodegradable filters, yard leaves, and vegetable skins. In the spring, out comes the fertilizer for the gardens. Slick system.
  • Electricity from wind – Liz says she made the choice to pay a little more for our electricity to be generated completely from wind sources. I think that’s kind of cool. I didn’t know I had the option.
  • Compact fluorescents – we’ve started switching over to compact fluorescent light bulbs. I don’t usually like the cool light. But they are starting to make them with warmer tones. You can save a bundle on electricity.
  • Motorcycles – we own two motorcycles.  This has to be the most efficient way to travel with only a few bucks to fill the tank. The only problem in Minnesota is that springs and summers are short-lived. You have to have a thick, cool weather skin.

That’s all I can think of for now. Liz said we should add a 7th – start collecting the shedding winter fur of Kiev, Mr. Stripeypants, and Chaco and make a pair of long underwear for next season. I don’t know if I’m quite that desperate. But we’ll see.

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

-from Topic post, WRITING TOPIC – GREENING

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