In August 2006, I poked a toad. While light and brief, my touch was enough to cause one thick, front arm to nudge slightly upward. This toad was indeed alive – that was all I needed to know. Relief and gratitude flooded my body.
I am not proud of myself for poking a toad. All I can say is, back then, I was not as conscious or practiced at resisting such impulses. I was so overcome with the presence of this toad and his ‘partner’ – reason took a back seat.
My friend Cherie and I came across this pair of Western toads while on a summer road trip in the West Kootney region of BC. We were exploring the Kohan Reflection Garden in the small village of New Denver.
A beautifully manicured oasis of greenery, the garden expanded outward from a central water feature. A slow waterfall trickled down a staircase of flat rocks into the palms of a concrete basin. Strewn across the basin was a log. Two toads sat on this log.
Initially we thought they were ornaments, placed on the log to complete the replica of a natural setting. They just were so still, and far bigger than I ever imagined toads to be.
The ‘more robust’ of the two dis-proved our ornament theory by jumping into the water when we got too close.
The flatter/wider of the two just sat there, impossibly still. I just needed to know he was alive.
His aliveness, and the aliveness of his partner, was equally fascinating and perplexing to Cherie and I.
For some reason, it seemed strange to us that toads would choose to hang out in the fabricated environment of a man-made garden.
We created a story of the toad couple who lived in the BC pond. We decided Sal, the one I poked, was the male and Nelly, the one who jumped into the water, was the female.
The narrative made sense based on the criteria we were using to attribute male/female characteristics. Being the female, Nelly was responsible for her home – the pond. She was always aware and alert, sensing potential intrusions and jumping into action.
Sal seemed far less aware, perhaps worn out by the work he had been doing somewhere beyond the pond. A slight shrug of one arm in response to my touch was all he could muster.
Completely inaccurate and narrow-minded representations of the male/female dynamic of course, Cherie and I knew, but sometimes it is good to poke fun at out-dated concepts of human behaviour.
This was my first experience with toad energy. My inner toad was reignited that day.
As amphibians, toads are close cousins (if not siblings?) to frogs, which I am absolutely connected to in some mystical way. I love frogs. I have dreamed of them for as long as I can remember.
Countless bodies of water have been approached by my unconscious mind, seeking their presence. They emulate so much of who I am.
I recall finding frogs as a child. I lived on the edge of town in Lethbridge and the area behind my house was not yet developed in the 80s, allowing for some natural vegetation and a number of bodies of water. Perfect frog habitat!
I remember finding frogs ‘out there’ all the time, and even in my back yard. Growing up on the edge of frog territory was beautiful.
I stopped finding frogs at some point near the end of my childhood, probably around the age of 12. Also around the time new houses were being built and development was taking over the area behind my house.
Adolescence thrust me into a world governed by cultural and societal expectations. I had to start abiding by a new set of rules, a different formula. Finding frogs was no longer enough – I had to start looking for meaning outside of myself.
I lost access to the magical playground behind my house, but I never stopped looking for frogs and never stopped dreaming about them.
In 2006, I started finding frogs in ‘reality’ again, just months prior to meeting Nelly and Sal.
By the time I meet the BC toad couple, the frog floodgates had already opened, unleashing a wave of absorptive energy into my world.
I have been riding this wave of potential for 14 years, having found and photographed countless toads and frogs of various sizes, various colours; in various states (from tadpole to adult), various locations. Photos of a few of my toad-specific encounters have been sprinkled throughout this post.
When Cherie and I left Nelly and Sal in 2006, we followed some unknown surge of potential to a magical spot where toads are abundant. So abundant sometimes, they can even form mountains…
Part two, coming next week, will name and expand on this magical location. I promise, you will not want to miss it 😉
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