Wednesday, 2 December 2020

Dreams of lost toads

 Lost Toads
Remembrance Day for Lost Species, 2020



It was cold. I sat and thought about the toads I know and love, of toads that have gone: the beautiful Golden Toad (Incilius periglenes, last seen 1989) of central America, of frogs so imperilled there may be only 1 or 2 individuals left (Hula painted Frog, Discoglossus nigriventer), of Mountain Chickens, (Leptodactylus fallax) wonderful, delightful and with their diminishing populations now being ravaged by chytrid fungus infections*


It was cold. I thought about what I already do, what could I do more of? What projects I could support, where a pair of wellies, a bucket and willing hands and might help


It was cold. I found my own stillness and thought of hibernation, of damp, patient lovelinesses folded into a deep, dreaming (?), sleep. Do toads dream? Who knows? But they have an ancient lineage to dream about


This was my Remembrance Day for Lost Species evening. A group of us had been planning a Creative Day to mark the occasion: gathering in the hills here to talk and draw and paint and plan. But no. Instead, I was here, human alone but in good amphibian company and it was cold. So I gathered so amphibians from the shelves, spread out some sheets of black paper, grabbed a handful of oil pastels, pens and scraps of paper and started to doodle



A HEART FULL OF TOADS



Sleeping.

Hiding the jewels of our eyes,

In the gravelled mud of our skins.

Sleeping,

A long slow slumber in the welcoming dark.

Sleeping, 

Still as stone, still as death,

Still as the shadows we are wrapped in.

Sleeping,

To dream of passion and ponds and

Spawn in a Toad Queen’s necklace in the weed.


And you, traveller in a toad’s dream,

What do you bring to the lost people

Of the hills?


I will rest beside you,

I will stand between you and harm,

I will sing your wonders to an unheeding world.

And come the spring when you wake,

And this world contrives to trap you,

Contain you, confine you, restrain you,

Hinder you, thwart you,

Block the pull of the home pond

With walls, with channels, with concrete and hostility



I will be and

I will rally,

The hands that lift,

The boots that wade,

The buckets that carry,

The hearts that smile,

And help you to the bliss,

Of the cold, dark water,

And the family that thrills,

Raising wonder to the skies.


For Toad is always there,

Inside me, beside me.

Connection,

Comfort, Inspiration,

Companion.


Cousin.




A bit of background

Remembrance Day for Lost Species, November 30th, is a chance each year to explore the stories of extinct and critically endangered species, cultures, lifeways, and ecological communities. 

Whilst emphasising that these losses are rooted in violent and discriminatory governing practices, the day provides an opportunity for participants to make or renew commitments to all who remain, and to develop creative and practical solutions. 

Remembrance Day for Lost Species honours diverse experiences and practices associated with enduring and witnessing the loss of cultural and biological diversity. 

(Information from RDLS website)


Useful links

* Robin Moore: In Search of Lost Frogs, Bloomsbury, 2014 – a book for inspiration and sorrow

Action: visit FROGLIFE  for amphibian and reptile related conservation in UK

Immediate action: why not buy a friend or treat yourself to a copy of the Froglife Toad print (limited edition so get in quick!)


Toads On roads: add you feet, wellies, buckets and best wishes to the toads on Roads scheme


For amphibians there is also

Save the Frog Day


But RDLS reaches out without an amphibian emphasis (that is my personal stuff) so visi them for ideas and maybe look at  the Loving Earth Project and CelebrationEarth! for ideas (Loving) and people who will celebrate emotional and spiritual responses to nature as well as practical ones (CE!)


Images:

First three images: c G MacLellan

Magnificent footnote toad: C K Taylor





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