Saturday, March 19, 2011

Saving Toads, while Japan...

This morning I was a first time volunteer to help carry toads across the road.
I had agreed to volunteer for this kind of work during last summer when I read a notice in the newspaper that the local chapter of the German Bund Naturschutz (environmental organization) was looking for more people to help staff an additional protective fence during spawning season. Unfortunately I was not present for the erection of the fence two weeks ago, because that coincided with the first day of a long-needed week of holidays. Which I had not really calculated on when I signed up as a volunteer in the first place. Nor did I know then that I would be traveling to the US in April for three weeks with my son, which also will prevent  me from being a toad guardian. In any case, it will work out a few times that I will go and check the fence before I leave for North Carolina.

This morning we had heavy rains – definitely good weather for amphibians on the move! Luckily, a beginner such as I am is given a personal instruction by the official representative of the organization, and, even more importantly, I was given a small brochure which has pictures and descriptions of the kinds of amphibians I am going to find in the buckets. Because I do have to admit that that’s not exactly my field of specialty (yet?). I did know that female toads are larger than male ones, and that they may occur as a pair, him being carried by her. But how was I supposed to tell an Alpine newts (Triturus alpestris) from a common newts (triturus vulgaris)?
The first bucket was filled with water and had to be emptied carefully in order not to miss anything that might be swimming in there. The others were not filled to such an extreme with water, but more successful on the amphibian side. When I had finished my rounds, this is how the contents of the bucket looked:

Common toads and various newts
in one of my buckets formerly used for dyeing...

The total count of today’s efforts amounted to 29 male common toads (two of which were so tiny that we thought they must have made a mistake with regard to the season when they were born), 3 females common toads (2 of which already had a male on their backs, while one was traveling solo), 11 Alpine newts and two common newts. (Add to that one particularly fat and long earthworm which was not included in the trip across the street, several bugs, and one drowned big fat rat and one drowned small mouse.)
The toads who were carried across the street and released to continue on their journes had to re-direct themselves, but most of them quickly found their bearings again: down to the water!

taking new bearings: keep going towards the water!
This couple was a particularly impressive pair:

Female common toad carrying male spawning partner

In the context of the current ongoings in Japan, after the earthquake and the tsunami, and the atomic catastrophe of which we still don’t know where it is going to take us (is it going to be the end of the world as we know it right now, or not just yet?), this might be a petty thing to do – carrying a few toads across the road to prevent them from being squished flat by cars. However, especially in this catastrophic context the whole thing had a soothing effect on me today, and was exactly what I needed on a day like this. The catastrophe of Tchernobyl was not that long ago, really. Just about twenty-five years later we again have a situation of which we were always told it would never happen, because after all, it hasn’t happened yet, so never will. Just how often do we have to be confronted with situations like this, until we finally understand that anything that could possibly happen might actually happen – and is even pretty likely to happen for real?

I received two requests via e-mail asking for quilt donations for Japan. One of these I would like to include here, because I think it was meant to be passed on to as many others as possible.

Dear Dorte
I am OK.But my family are in Sendai and they are at very difficult
It is still bad situation now in Japan but it is not terrible.
We are still nervous about shaking and radiation,but no way to escape.

I start to announce to the quilters to send us comfort quilts for the
people who are suffered.I would like to do it to the world quilters.
We will deliver the comfort quilts to the people who are very difficult
Could you please help to announce it to the quilters in Germany?

We accept any size of quilts(baby to adult).new or unused.
The deadline would be the end of May or later.

Send the quilts to:
until the middle of April
Naomi Ichikawa,Editor of Patchwork Quilt tsushin
Patchwork Tsushin Co.,Ltd
5-28-3,Hongo,Bunkyo-ku,Tokyo,Japan zip:113-0033

after the middle of April
Naomi Ichikawa
Patchwork Tsushin Co.,Ltd
2-21-2,Yushima,Bunkyo-ku,Tokyo,Japan zip:113-0034

I will appreciate if you help me.


While personally I think it makes a lot more sense to donate money to aid organizations which have the human and financial resources to actually get to the people what they really need in times of crisis, such as food and water and medical supplies, I can understand the not-immediate-victim’s desire to present another, real victim with comfort, and what can be more comforting than a personally-made quilt blanket to wrap oneself into. Like carrying toads across the roads... (We won’t talk about the danger of radioactive contamination here just now...)  

No comments:

Post a Comment