Debra’s work as an estate-gardening supervisor & business owner, contributes to her continued enthusiasm & respect for the natural world.
It was a blue-skied, perfect summer day.
Being a Saturday...laundry was on my domestic list for that morning. As my brother and I share a washer in my house, he had left a bag of dirty clothes on my patio the day before. Meaning to get to it earlier that morning, but getting side-tracked by this or the other...the bag of laundry was still there. Going out the door, I spotted the laundry and decided to go ahead and put it in the washer. Not being as particular as I should
have been, I pretty much just stuffed the clothes around the washer’s agitator, put in the detergent, shut the lid, and turned on the washer.
I went about with the rest of my chores and when the laundry was finished, I decided another cycle would do them good, so I ran the load through a second time.
After lunch, I went to the washer to put the clothes into the dryer. I started pulling out the damp clothes and about half way through, to my horror, there lying sprawled out on the bottom of the tub was a poor toad. I got a towel and carefully picked up the poor fellow. As I looked him over, the pulse on his tiny neck was barely moving. Being the animal lover that I am, I tilted him upside down in hopes that some of the water he had ingested would come out...but absolutely nothing came out. His little eyes were almost shut and knowing nothing about the anatomy of a toad, I decided there wasn’t much I could do for the little guy.
If only I had been more careful in loading the washer, I might’ve seen him and saved him from such a horrid end! All I could think of was him bobbing up and down in the soap suds and just when he thought he might make it, the rinse and spin cycles would start. And to go through all that twice! I felt bad.
I knew there was nothing more I could do for him. I had done what I could. I rounded up an empty flower pot and gently laid his little body on the bottom...it would be just a matter of time now...
I went about my chores and promised myself that I wouldn’t check on him until thirty minutes had passed. Knowing myself, I knew that I would be tempted to torture myself by checking on the little guy every five minutes. I kept thinking of him spinning around and around, his little body plastered against the side of the washing machine. It was not a pretty picture.
Finally thirty minutes passed and I went to bury my little friend.
As I slowly peered into the clay pot, I thought I saw him move a bit. That was not possible, I thought. I reached in to pick him up and he nearly jumped out of the pot! I jumped back with such a startle that I ended up sitting on the ground. I couldn’t believe my own eyes. I sat there on the ground staring at him, watching him trying to scale the walls of the pot. I finally convinced myself that he somehow had recovered and I took him and the pot to a bed of iris and laid the pot on its side and the little fellow hopped right out...ready to eat bugs and explore his world for one more day!
All that day, I went over and over what the little toad had endured...certainly I could gather some encouragement for my own life from this little guy. I would hope that in my own journey that life’s hardness and struggles would take a back seat to slowing down and enjoying the quiet and natural pauses that life can show us. I promised myself to never be so busy as to miss the pureness in a newborn’s smile or the magic one feels when holding the worn hand of an elderly neighbor...
And the next time I look up at a sky full of night stars, I will look just a bit longer...even if my eyes are filled up with tears.
I bet little “Jonah” would be proud.
© 2021 Debra White