The toad returned to the greenhouse last Friday—Earth Day—as she does every spring at this time. But this year she brought a baby toad with her, so small I almost missed it squatting on the wooden walkway that crosses the lily pond in the greenhouse.
The baby toad is lighter than its mother, almost translucent, with smoother, lightly speckled skin. Mommy and baby like to sit together in the potted iris we call the “toad throne” of the lily pond. Even when they’re off exploring, we can see their imprints in the mud, the baby’s a miniature version of its mother’s.
I’m always relieved when the toad comes back in the spring because it means the cycles of nature are in balance and proceeding as they should, despite whatever crazy things are going on in the rest of the world. I believe the toads’ return brings luck to the season, and since this will be our 20th as a CSA, we’ve obviously been benefitting from toad luck for quite some time.
But wait! I just ran out to the greenhouse to get yet another picture of the toads and found the baby on the board we place in the pond as a toad ramp. The baby looked smaller than I remembered and was darker but maybe it was just sitting in a different position or in different light. I took its picture with my telephoto lens so that I didn’t have to get too close—looked pretty good with the green lily pad beneath.
I like to mark cycles and returns and anniversaries because it reminds me that life continues from day to day, season to season, year to year without my doing anything to make this process happen. In fact, my actions are usually irrelevant to any of it, with a few exceptions, like this blog.
Today is the first anniversary of pearlmoonplenty and I’m proud of that. I started this blog to give myself a dedicated space for writing practice but it’s become more than that. Even when I was busy teaching this past semester, I looked forward to sharing my experiences and reflections with my readers, some whom I know and others whom I don’t. A blog is wonderful in that regard: what you send out, you get back in often surprising ways.
With pearlmoonplenty, I’ve been able to develop ideas that have been brewing for a while, as well as to jaunt off in new directions as my whims and circumstances dictate. One of those directions has been work on a genre I call “ecobiography,” which I define as a lifewriting text that places the writer’s identity and experiences within the context of the natural world, whether in a wilderness, rural, or even urban setting. Ecobiographies reflect on questions like where do our individual ideas about nature originate? How might nature be a guide for conducting our lives? What other living beings are with us in this world? How are we connected and what do we learn or gain from each other?
For my readers in the Lyons/Boulder area, I’ll be teaching an ecobiography workshop on Friday, May 20, here at Stonebridge Farm (see our website link to the right). I’m also working on a writing guide to ecobiography, something I hope to finish this year. Pearlmoonplenty has been an inspiration to my writing in this genre and I look forward to sharing more ecobiography—along with more stories, book chats, and photographs–in the coming year.
So thank you to my readers for keeping me going. Like the toads returning each spring, your support of pearlmoonplenty makes me feel lucky. I’m excited to see what the next year brings!