Emerging from the earth
The Spadefoot Toad Queen
The ground trembled beneath a stunted sagebrush shrub. The Toad Queen emerged from her burrow to a changed world. Clouds of smoke hung over the land from a wildfire. The spadefoot toad gazed at this new world through golden slitted eyes. Sand tumbled down her spotted back.
A purple larkspur plant stood near her burrow. Its head of flowers tilted toward the earth, wilted from the blistering heat.
The Toad Queen heard a meadowlark singing nearby. The song stopped abruptly, interrupted by a fit of coughing.
“What happened while I slept in my burrow?” She glanced around at the desert landscape.
She and the other spadefoot toads had pulled moisture from the soil as they slept underground and it helped them survive. Other creatures had not been so lucky. The carcass of a sage sparrow fledgling lay near her burrow. A few feathers clung to the tiny dried out body.
“Wind and fire are taking the water from the land,” her mate said. He had emerged from his own burrow. The toad shook the sand off the black spades on his hind feet.
“The sun is drying everything,” she said. “We must call for help.”
A call for help
Her mate called the spadefoot toads. His loud croaking call carried far over the sagebrush steppe. Other toads joined in and soon the air was filled with a chorus of croaks.
Over their heads, dark clouds collected in the smoky skies. Thunderheads formed. The patter of rainfall on the earth woke other spadefoot toads. They emerged from their burrows and joined in the chorus. The air was alive with the energy created by their song.
Rain fell, dousing the fires. White smoke rose from the burning trees and shrubs doused by the rain. Hours later, the fire was out.
“Thank you,” the Toad Queen said. She smiled at the group of spadefoot toads gathered around her.
The meadowlark alighted on a greasewood shrub near the Toad Queen. His melodic song of gratitude echoed across the landscape.
Renewal and change was coming to this land, but it would take time.
FOWC – Energy
16 thoughts on “The Toad Queen: FOWC”
Love this…well composed!
Thanks! I like the piece you just posted as well. We all need more levity right now. 🙂
That’s for sure.
We could use the Toad Queen here in Northern California right about now.
Yes, I’m thinking about you guys here in central Oregon. I hope we have a wet autumn.
Great tale! Ecologically fascinating as well as a great positive perspective in the wake of fire’s apparent ruin.
Thanks! I’m thinking about the fires a lot with all the smoke.
Yeah it’s hard not to when you’re in the thick of it. Between N. Arizona and Washington this summer the fire and haze are pervasive
Great stuff! 🙂 We need more toads here in dry Illinois!
Thanks. We need them in many places this summer. 😐
I love how this piece reminds me of fairy tales as well as nature’s capacity to heal herself. The natural balance in nature when humans let her be.
Yosemite was closed for three weeks due to fires. Today I heard that during this time the bears, deers and other critters came out and were very visible to the park rangers. A thousand plus tourists are expected over the weekend and the critters will make themselves scarce once again….. just don’t leave any food or scented stuff out!
Thanks. I like writing stories like this one.
I always wonder what happens to the animals in big wildfires. Some get away and others don’t. I hope Yosemite and its wildlife can start healing.
This is a case of fiction that too closely reflects fact. I like the touch of fairy tale that will capture young readers, and help them identify with what is happening to our environment. The tradition of fairy tales continues to educate.
Thanks. I love writing short fables.
I loved the story, especially the circumstances behind the story. Well Done!
Thank you Delores! 🙂