Thursday, April 30, 2009


Toads are amphibious.
They breed and lay eggs in water, but spend the rest of their time on land. Their mating is rough and tumble. They breast stroke across the water surface after each other, jumping onto and shoving each other under. They make an all consuming racket. Each toad sings a trilling song in a different key. There might be thousands of them in one place - a thousand distinct notes, some ending in choked burbling when a singer is pulled under. The period of attraction is short; they only mate for two or three days. Over night, the ponds they occupy go from ear splitting to dead silent. I have a friend who thinks that toads are the ugliest things she’s ever seen. I delight in sending photographs to her because I get such a reaction: “Ugly! UGLY, UGLY, UGLY!” she says. To me, they are wonderful. Granted, they have faces maybe only a mother could love. Yes, they have brown lumps and bumps all over them and dumpy bodies. But, their little hands can clutch onto your finger like a baby, and they have the gold eyes of kings. I do wonder though, when the pond goes silent, where do they all go? Do they forget about each other? Does the love end the day the pond goes quiet?
Over twenty years ago, I gave birth to two children. They are fortunate to each be very attractive people. But, even if they were toads, some other toad would love them and think them worth singing about loudly. Come to think of it, some of the people they’ve each dated, I was sure were toads! The older I get, the more I’m convinced that the adage “there’s somebody for everybody” is true, though my children will never have to worry about finding people to love them. They are brilliant, successful and wonderful. For each of them, there will be someone who will hurl themselves across a pond and grab onto them for dear life. I wanted to hold onto them for dear life myself! They changed my life. Sometimes, I felt like I was drowning in the tasks of feeding them, hair cuts, homework, crying, fevers, T-ball, birthday parties, clean clothes, etc. The din of their growing up was often overwhelming. Then, seemingly suddenly, the pond was quiet. In the mean time, they had changed how I saw the whole world. They had taught me about infinity. They taught me the joy of deep, everlasting commitment. They taught me about love.


  1. Well, girl you gone an' done it again! Gotten me all gooey when I got things to do. Somewhere in there I thought I was gonna read about Susan Boyle, but you got her story beat by a mile. You're the only person I know who could find toads by the barrelful -- and then point out how we should love them. And probably not a prince in the whole lot.
    Congrats. Nice piece.
    "Ribbit in D.C."

  2. You are right...I recognized the toad from our last visit to Periwinkle Lane! I am kidding, of course...Morgan looks as beautiful as ever and Hayden, quite the handsome dude.
    Toadally thrilled with your writing,
    PS I remember dating some toads, too!

  3. Great photos (I guess I am to call them photos now,not pics) of the kids.Toads ???
    When we were in Fl.there was a toad that if the dog bit it she would die.I guess
    you know what I did with one when I saw them.Nasty things.

  4. Your son is hot! Daughter is pretty too, but I have seen her many times. Never met
    the boy!

  5. Nice essay on toads and offspring. How can anyone call a toad ugly? They
    are sooooooooooo beautiful!

  6. Very sweet! I happen to think toads are adorable. And you are NOT done dealing with the fevers! Where was Hayden in that pic?

  7. Nice piece, Robin.

  8. You are so very fortunate to have two beautiful children who have spread their wings and flown and are doing so well! I know what you mean about the sudden quiet pond. It's hard to believe when you are going through the hassles of raising them, that too soon you are wishing you could have all of that craziness back. Well, that's possible when you become a grandparent even if it's only for a half day now and again. Thank the heavens, as with age it really is draining. I so admire grandparents raising their grandchildren- although I have no idea where they get the stamina to do that!!!! I love toads too! Love the sound of them in early spring- it makes me know the long cold winter has come to an end. Another wonderful piece of writing Robin- keep it up! - Ms. Boo

  9. We found out today that our pond is going to be silent for six weeks this summer starting four days after her 16th birthday. I'm not sure I'm ready to let my cute little frog hop out of the pond!

  10. You have a beautiful family Robin! Love the story and photos!

  11. First off, I want to say thanks for dropping by my blog. I'm glad the Trout Lily posts were helpful.

    Second, I want to say that I browsed around your blog a bit and it very interesting. Lot of baring of one's soul here. Excellent writing.

    Third, as someone who lived in Georgia for several years and vacations in Maine almost every year, you've got the better end of the deal! I'll honk the horn as i drive by on 295 in early June on our way up to Bar Harbor. Gonna do some hiking and lots of wildflower and bird photography up there. Hope to do a few walks as part of the Acadia Birding Festival as well.

    Take care.