Friday, June 20, 2008

PURPLE TOADS



I love springtime in Carlsbad because there are so many colors in the foliage from the Flower Fields to the Birds of Paradise and now the blossoming of the Jacaranda trees with their bright lavender flowers. Rancho Santa Fe is lined with Jacaranda trees as well as Melrose Ave. and the Von’s shopping center on Alga & El Camino Real. These trees make me happy as I drive by them each day.

Growing up in Yuma, AZ, we didn’t see much color (one of the reasons why I love Carlsbad!). There were two predominant colors - SAND, BROWN, GREY-BROWN, DUSTY-BROWN, MUDDY-BROWN, ALFALFA-GREEN, GREY-GREEN, CACTUS-GREEN, CITRUS-GREEN and TOAD-GREEN.

By our front porch we had a Jacaranda Tree, the only non-fruit bearing tree in our yard! I don’t think anyone else had one in Yuma. Every spring it would bloom, big, beautiful clusters of LAVENDER blossoms. We officially were a 4-colored yard! After the blossoms dropped the leaves were a treat as they were large fan-like wisps that kept the sun from beating down on the front porch.

We also had toads that hibernated in the ground near the front porch. They are supposed to ‘emerge’ when the monsoons come in August – but the monsoons rarely dropped a raindrop in Yuma. Instead we irrigated our yard, especially when springtime was upon us – so the tress would soak up heavily to bear the summer heat. Our toads used the irrigation as their alarm clock.

So, each springtime as the Jacaranda Tree was blooming, the evening exodus of toads onto our front porch began – along with their croaking songs! Now - these toads weren’t the small cute things – they were huge; the size of a salad plate in circumference and 4-6 inches tall!!! And we didn’t have a few, we had MANY. Our front porch was about 10’ x 6’ with a 5’ walkway to the driveway. When you would open the front door, the WHOLE front porch would be covered with toads. We would open and shut the screen door to see if they would move – which they didn’t. Then you would take one of the toad-sticks, which was kept in a bucket by the front door, to prod the toads to action. If you were lucky, they’d hop onto the toad next to them and hopefully cause a domino/chain reaction and MOVE! It took a few minutes to clear a path. Then we had to move quickly, as they liked to gravitate back to their favorite spot.

It was a disgusting chore to clear the porch. Toad cooties, toads flopping on your feet, toad remains – yes, you can imagine the excuses we would come up with to fore go the nightly ritual. And heaven forbid if we had company! Didn’t have cell phones to call someone in the house – instead our company would yell to get our attention so WE could clear a path to the front door. However, my nephews, when visiting in the evening had a grand time. They would grab the toads, scare one another with them, chase after them, put them on their heads, or see how many they could get inside the house and stuff in their mom’s purse without being caught. In fact those were the only evenings that the toads seemed to disappear without the toad-stick.

It was one of those rare dry-cool evenings that AZ is known for, that the wind picked up. The Jacaranda blossoms had begun to drop, and they left a mess on the porch. No one had swept the porch that day. The toads began to congregate. Around 9 PM, I arrived home from work to discover the front porch covered with a heavy layer of Jacaranda blossoms from the wind. I thought it looked so pretty in the light. I was mesmerized by such color and beauty and stillness, that I did not stop to consider the reason for such depth of dropped blossoms.

I joyously started walking to the front door only to realize that the blossoms were starting to lurch! Oh, no, purple toads! I stepped on one – gag! It was able to move away from my foot which caused me to stumble and play a quick two-step to avoid stepping on more toads!

“MOM!!! HELP ME! MOM!” I yelled. That seemed to wake up the sleeping toad princes! I was frozen, not wanting to step and crush anymore toads. They started hopping, those purple covered toads, plopping on my feet, brushing against my legs, ugh! Would no one come and save me?

Finally the door opened, and my mom and dad - well, they just stood there and laughed at the mounds of purple flopping toad-blossoms around my feet. Purple Toads – they have a way of diminishing all your dignity.

In honor of the Toads, I collect them – but they are ceramic, which line my front porch. Maybe someday I will get myself a Jacaranda Tree then I will have some more Purple Toads – that don’t flop and plop!

2 comments:

The Pink Potpourri said...

thanks for commenting on my blog! hope you win the giveaway!

Alice Wills Gold said...

BRAVO on your first real writing post.

Oh, how I miss those flowerfields and the Birds of Paradise.

But, I have to say that I think our Springs in TN are much more colorful :) (Although I think I would trade with you the rest of the year)

But, hey, now that you have escaped from those living toads, it won't take too much color to make you happy, right?

I am so happy for you California visuals today. thank you.