Posts Tagged ‘toads’

scratch paper haiku, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Summer Solstice 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

scratch paper haiku, written with the shaft of a feather,
Minneapolis, Minnesota, Summer Solstice 2008, all photos © 2008
by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

               Fire Ring & Birch, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Summer Solstice 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

ONE        1 frog + 1 toad =
                2 reams of good luck

Saw two frogs last weekend. One was this size (a toad). And one looked like this (a frog). The tree frog hopped out of the pond at Summer Solstice and spent some time with us on dry land. I now know the difference between a frog and a toad.



               At The Table Of Light, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Summer Solstice 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

TWO       2 insurance adjusters + 1 friendly couple + 1 smiling contractor =
               1 new roof

The toad appeared right as our contractor and two insurance adjusters (a husband and wife team from Kansas) arrived on the scene to inspect the roof. I saw that as a good omen. The toad’s skin looked like the bark of a tree. I thought it was a moth and brushed it off the deck table. It jumped. That’s when I knew it wasn’t a moth. I slid the slick, 4-color binder with the roof estimate under her belly and moved her down under the garden day lilies. She had bright orange skin where the leg meets the body, the same color as the day lilies.



 Grounded, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Summer Solstice 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

THREE    12 hours + 1 summer storm + 1 green tree frog =
               13 moons + 100 rocks + 1 gargantuan chorus

The second frog was a single green tree frog. She strolled proudly by the Solstice fire ring near a tumbled pile of birch, calling back and forth to her friends in the pond. One frog sang out. A few thousand returned the favor. This continued long into the night.



 Solstice Skies, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Summer Solstice 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

FOUR      1 summer solstice here =
                1 winter solstice there

Self-explanatory. We are one world.



 Curls Of Fire, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Summer Solstice 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

FIVE       1 fireside story from 2 shaman lips =
               4 Tibetan nagas

Nagas are snake spirits, cobras. They live in or near water — deities of the primal ocean and of mountain springs; also spirits of earth and the realm beneath it — dragons of lakes, ponds, and oceans. They protect the Buddha and like to come up through the feet. Buddha took his sword and cut a valley into 4 parts = 4 Great Nagas. Nagas eat frogs.



 Drumming, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Summer Solstice 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved

SIX          1 drumbeat in the rain =
                10 drums in dry heat

It poured in the middle of Solstice. We stood under a cluster of cedars, watched sheets of rain crest over the pond, and kept drumming. The skin of a hand-stretched drum changes tone with the humidity. When the air is saturated with water, one beat can resonate deeply and hang in the air. Close to the fire again, the skin pulls hard at the wood frame. The mallet bounces off hide in short bursts of sound.



 Tools Of The Trade, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Summer Solstice 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

SEVEN     shedding 1 old skin =
                much harder than you think



 Goddess Takes A Leap (Of Faith), Minneapolis, Minnesota, Summer Solstice 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

EIGHT    4 marshmallows + a 2-pronged stick =
               3 marshmallows splat on the ground + 1 mean S’more


Hershey’s S’mores (Indoors or Outdoors)

4 graham crackers, broken into halves
2 Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bars (1.55 oz), broken into halves
4 marshmallows

Outdoors: Place chocolate bar half on graham cracker half. Toast marshmallow over grill or campfire (supervise kids if they’re doing this); place over chocolate. Top with second graham cracker half. Gently press together. (Recipe from the cardboard on the inside of a Hershey bar)

Indoors: Place graham cracker half on paper towel; top with chocolate bar half and marshmallow. Microwave at Medium (50%) in 10 second intervals until marshmallow puffs. Immediately top with remaining graham cracker half. Gently press together. Repeat, serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.



               Drawing Down The Moon, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Summer Solstice 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

NINE      1 alligator + 1 panther =
               get along just fine 😉



               Solstice Goddess, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Summer Solstice 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

TEN        25,000 humans + stones aged at 3000 years B.C. + 1 Salisbury Plain =
               Summer Solstice at Stonehenge 

Some people’s Solstices are way wilder than mine! Stonehenge, on the Salisbury Plain about 90 miles southwest of London, was built over three phases between 3,000 B.C. and 1,600 B.C.  Cremated remains and burials continued for at least 500 years. It is estimated that at least 240 people were buried at Stonehenge. More than 750,000 people visit every year.



Incubate Magic, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Summer Solstice 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.                  Tree Frame, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Summer Solstice 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.                Feather & Wand, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Summer Solstice 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


 BONUS:  Incubate magic


scratch paper haiku

train whistle marshes
summer solstice grabs the light
and turns it to dark




-posted on red Ravine, Friday, June 27th, 2008

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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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