I have handled more frogs and toads in the last few weeks than I have seen on our land since we moved here. Most were bloatish and leathery, as big as a softballs and stuffed with pomposity. Others were small and slimy – like the colony of otherworldly semi-translucent, tiny amethyst black frogs having a conference in a rotting pile of plywood I uncovered after the rains.
The most captivating are the mini-multi-colored-meditator’s. Usually tan or off-green, they always have their own distinct color highlights. Some are airbrushed iridescent red, some have Roarsharchian dabs of umber, others wear badly painted blue-green eyeshadow. I took one on a short ride inside a 3/4 inch PVC coupling when I found it in my toolbox. It never bothered to move, never took its eyes off me, never seemed worried. Truly serene.
The return of frogs and toads to our land is a testament to the love, hard work, and water we’ve been sharing for almost three years. There have always been toads and frogs in our neighborhood, but they were almost entirely absent from our property when we arrived.
When land is tortured with poisons, garbage, loud noise, overgrazing – or any of the other habits of ignorance we humans throw at our world – it can lose part of its spirit, and part of its ability to renew itself. Our hands and shovels turned over almost 1/2 an acre of sandy soil without spotting a single amphibious friend that first year.
The next summer I remember hearing our first frog at night. Terry and I giggled like children when the croaking love song began. We waited each night afterward for it, hopeful a hawk or owl hadn’t snatched up our nighttime serenader. Eventually it did move on, I like to picture it in the cool mud of the Slough seducing its kin.
Scientists do not officially use frogs and toads as indicators of the health of an environment, they don’t meet the rigid criteria ‘bird in the mine’ species need to meet. A frog count is good enough for us though. Frogs + Toads = Health.
Each toad or frog is an affirmation that the land is regaining its ability to rejuvenate itself, that its spirit is returning. The soil is richer, more moisture is retained, more predators hunt, less topsoil flies when the wind kicks up. Its getting so you can’t set shovel to soil without unearthing some amphibious friend.
This year I have a new understanding of renewal, inspired by some spirit dancing I did at an FSS workshop. First we dance to awaken spirit within us, before we reach out to the compassionate helping spirits. Each time we dance, our hearts are given the chance to rediscover the brightness of our own souls. Sore and lonesome, we dip them into that magical pool of light to be reborn. Maybe thats how it is for toads, frogs and other creatures of the land. When they are blessed by the spirit of the land they’re given a chance to be reborn.
I journey to the land a few times a week. She changes with the seasons – older, younger, gray or radiant. The more time I spend with her the brighter she becomes. Spring helps, she’s happier now than I’ve ever seen her. We nourish each other.
Ignited by her renewal, I’m energetic, less stressed and excited to dig deep into the garden projects we’ve got going. After lumbering through the darkness of winter, receiving all the fecundity it has to offer, I’m ready to be inspired by the land and life. I’m ready for my heart to be immersed in brightness for a time, immersed in the healing song of Spring.
Image: Frog by By Chrlie Evatt from Flickr, used under
a Creative Commons license