Posts Toad Totem

Toad Totem

by treenaorchard

Since Elliott’s harness arrived two weeks ago we have been enjoying daily jaunts outside. The first jaunt begins around 6-6.30 am, which I affectionately call “Morning Glory.” But prior to putting the pink flamingo straps around her neck and under her arms, there is much preparation. It’s amazing to see how intent she is to get me up: endless jumps on the bed with pleading eyes, many loud meows, and repeated trips up and down the stairs wailing all the while. Once upon a time, these dramatic antics were about being fed but not anymore. Now it’s strictly about the business of getting outside.

But I make her wait until I take my vitamins, select an essential oil for the diffuser and set it up, turn on my computer, find a YouTube ‘healing music’ video, open the front door and the living room drapes, check my phone and go to the bathroom. Why do I make her wait? Because I’m at her beck and call 99% of the time and, frankly, I love the neurotic push and pull we create. I exclaim loudly that she’s “too much” and then say, “We’re going outside”, after which she cries and gets in my way as I walk around the kitchen. Then, I say, “Just one more thing” as I complete my mundane morning checklist.

Prior to the arrival of the harness, I didn’t spend much time outside. In fact, I had convinced myself that I’d let the yard ‘take care of itself’ until the Fall, when I’d pay someone to clean it up. How ridiculous, but also understandable. It’s been fifteen years since I owned a house and a yard is a lot different than taking care of houseplants. I felt inexperienced and embarrassed that I don’t know more, especially because all the women in my immediate family have always had green knowledge, sprouting everywhere. So, I retreated and watched the grass turn brown.

“Don’t worry, everyone’s grass is brown right now,” most people said, which made me feel better but also kinda stupid. Surely I can figure some things out, weed at least. Now, during the morning glory escapades I grab my floral gardening gloves and tackle different spots in the backyard, along the side of the house, and even at the front, where I’m very visible. What we must look like! My hair in wild curls because of the humidity, wearing what I wore to bed (t-shirt, underwear) with a hoodie and pants or shorts with Elliott getting her lead tangled, straining to get further and often straying into the yard of the quiet neighbours to my left.

Honestly, I think they’re glad to see us outside because it shows that we care about the property. I daresay that was a bit of a concern given the relative abandon I showed the yard in the first few weeks. How small life can seem when the looks of people I don’t even know register as significant. I’ve felt more than surveillance though, to be sure; there is a sense of community too. The woman and her son next door lost their cat last week and I dropped off a card for them early one morning. It was a nice thing to do and they appreciated it deeply.

But then the woman, who was clearly grieving, was weirdly chattering to me while day drinking, which was triggering – memories of my mom and myself. Her jiggly face and false happiness were so familiar. ICK. Not the look per se, but the churny emotions I felt upon seeing her. Luckily, I didn’t have far to go to collect myself. Small things can open up into larger ones in a second. Trauma and life itself are like that. Those origami ‘fortune teller” squares we made in elementary school come to mind. Remember? The kind that sit on your fingers and move in and out while the ‘customer’ selects options from the crystal ball that unfolds into an 8 x 11 piece of paper at the end.

While weeding this morning, Elliott and I got a little surprize. Actually, it was a fairly plump surprise – the size of small apple, a lumbering toad. After I disturbed his habitat he loped off, sticking close to the fence, and was gone. Elliott tried to scoop him up but was unsuccessful. Slow Spring flies are more her hunting speed! After the toad left we resumed our morning unison at the far end of the driveway, where the weeds are especially thick. I was thankful to see the toad, which is connected with water elements and symbolizes:

  • Cleansing
  • Renewal, rebirth
  • Fertility, abundance
  • Transformation, metamorphosis
  • Life mysteries and ancient wisdom

If the toad appears, it can mean:

  • It’s a time to tread more lightly in your daily life
  • Consider going camouflage or working undercover to achieve a goal
  • Your vocalizations, speech and writings may have more reach than you think possible
  • You are being protected
  • You may be more empathetic or absorbing of your environment than you think

These life-affirming attributes and associations feel in line with where I’m at. Although sometimes scattered and stressed, mainly I am holding my own space and doing it well. I feel happy, loved, and am learning- yes, it has to be learned- to let the sunshine flow into my streams of blood, oxygen, and breath that make it all possible. To allow myself to feel happy is an affirmative action of self-love, strength, and harmony. A totem is a sacred item that represents various people, places, and things. As a totem animal, toad is a magical nymph that transgresses and thus knows much about the water and the land. This is good wisdom that I let beam through me.

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London, Ontario

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