Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Totaled Toad . . .

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Being the carefree toad that I am, I was cheerfully hopping across the blog highway this evening, when I got run right over by a giant tractor trailer (that's an articulated lorry for you British folks out there, or a poids lourd pour les français), yes a whole truckload of kindness just ran me down and left me flat on my back with a dumbfounded smile, an amphibian grin, a bactrian belly laugh. And who could have sent such a magnificent message of munificence ? A missive more generous than any of the blog awards in circulation I've seen to date ? Well look no further than my sidebar, where a link can be found to Lynne Louciao Ciacco's Décolleté Glimpses and her post of this evening which seems to be saying that as toads go, I may be a little less slimy or covered in warts than some of my species. Thanks Lynne ! ! !
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And it does happen in the real world as well as in the blogosphere that toads get bowled over and flattened out while trying to cross the road, as below photo attests. I say we need more toads on this planet and fewer automobiles, and with fewer automobiles there might be less need for oil to be refined into gasoline, and thus less chance of oil wells blowing up and causing massive oil spills devastating entire eco-systems. Perhaps better to be flat and gone to toad heaven than to see what horrors mankind will continue to perpetrate upon this planet . . .
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The above defunct toad (now why does the word defunct contain "fun"?) and the below photos are from the February trip to Reunion Island. Reunion Island is a popular tourist destination for the French, and perhaps for other Europeans as well, but I'm not sure that many Americans tend to head there. And why should they, as there are plenty of lovely tropical islands closer in the Caribbean. But none of the tourist guides we read before going mentioned that there could be a risk of all the beaches on the island being closed. It seems that when Reunion Island gets heavy tropical downpours, which they do from time to time, the rains flush out all the ravines on the island right into the ocean, and it can take days or weeks for the sea to correct the matter and wash away the dense concentrations of waste washed into the ocean around the island. The problem is compounded by sewage treatment plants which get overwhelmed by the rainwater, and by the fact that many ravines on the island are used as dumping grounds for all manner of human wastes.
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These next two photos show the port of Saint Pierre de la Réunion as it looked the days after some particularly heavy storms. Yes, the brown stuff is the water. We were fortunate, there was still one beach open on the west coast of the island in the days just after our arrival, and then later some other beaches were able to re-open. Food for thought. Food for sharks too, who love to come see what's for lunch after the storms.
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This next view is what I sometimes refer to as another roadside attraction, in homage to Tom Robbins' book of that title. They were a little too common on la Réunion. You've heard of throwing out the baby with the bathwater, well here they threw out the baby carriage with the toilet water, errr, at least the toilet. All is not well even in a place which should be close to paradise . . .
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Fortunately for us tourists, there were some working toilets to be found, which hopefully did not send their wastes out into the ocean when it rains . . .
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There were some public toilets which left me sceptical (no pun intended) as to where the wastes were directed. This one was right at the ocean's edge . . .
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And believe it or not, I took the above photo of a trash heap by the water's edge, and then tilted the camera upwards a little and took the next one. In spite of mankind, it is still a beautiful place, this planet of ours. If we could only learn to take a little better care of it.
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46 comments:

Amy said...

Amazing that even with the brown water and all the trash and dead frogs that the skies are so beautiful. I still have a certain appreciation for the decay - but not this kind. It's so sad to see piles of trash about like this... even if they are photographed nicely.

Clytie said...

Ewe. That brown water is gross. At least you can see what you shouldn't be swimming in - our beautiful river gets the, er, deposits from the city sewers that overflow during heavy rains ... (heavy rains, Oregon, go figure!) ... and they have to go tell everyone because you can't see the nasty, and people still fish, swim and whatever else in the water ...

It is indeed sad what we are doing to our planet. I could go on and on. I'll spare you that.

Love the frog picture by the way ... I photographed a road kill possum a while ago and the vultures had already pecked away the, um, delicate parts. I almost posted it with the title "at least he died happy" but my daughter said she'd never speak to me again.

K'line Bloom said...

Oui Owen, c'est bien triste ce que l'homme arrive à faire subir à la nature au quotidien pour vivre. Quel gâchis...
Bises

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Sorry to see the totaled toad. Sadly it also happens a lot to squirrels.

Thank you for capturing the darker side of human impact on an island paradise. I also very much enjoyed your last post with your beautiful pictures and reverent treatment of the war cemeteries. I dislike war intensely but respect those who had to fight and those who lost their lives.

@eloh said...

I don't know how it is that this had never occurred to me before... but Okinawa had open sewage but not one piece of trash out of place anywhere on the entire island.

clo said...

howdy OWEN...
le revers de la medaille ,la face cachée de l'iceberg...c'est vraiment innommable...quel massacre écologique...
la couleur de l'eau est impressionnante on dirait de .....meme les requins doivent avoir mal au ventre...
mais j'ai gardé ce souvenir de la reunion...il y a 20 ans c'etait deja comme ça...
oui l'ile paradisiaque...tout cela ternit un peu cette image idéalisée que l'on peut avoir de cet endroit...
même si longtemps après finalement le cerveau ne garde en mémoire que le coté idyllique de la balade...
pauvre Toad en tout cas ...lui il a déjà payé l'addition...
et pour nous humains ça ne saurait tarder...
je t'embrasse Owen..

the watercats said...

hhhmmm... toilets... makes a bizarre change from crisp packets and coke bottles that you find over here :-)
that toad looks kind of cool though, in a hideous way..

Steve said...

Brown water? Brown water? That's a swimming pool made out of gravy surely! Just add Yorkshire pudding and sausages and I'll be more than happy to dive on in!

dusty said...

I adore visiting your blog, and do it as often as possible. This one captivated me..but isn't the photo of the road kill/animal carnage un petit oiseau? Don't see the resemblance to a toad.. unless in France they have beaks! Just curious.

Nevine said...

Ah, toilets again! And I'm left scratching my head about where that toilet leads to, as well. I hope people don't actually use it, though. That would be... well, quite disgusting. Still, when nature calls, what is one to do, no? And the poor dead toad... well, he is my favorite of all. He's so at one with the earth, now. Look at him, poor fellow! Thanks to you for keeping us entertained, Owen. You are always full of refreshing surprises!

Nevine

Nevine said...

And it appears I missed a post, and a most important one. I love cemeteries, and I just wanted you to know I enjoyed your photos... though not without that bit of sadness in my heart. My husband and I visited some of the cemeteries you mentioned when we lived in Belgium. And as we walked through, we both remembered our visits to the cemeteries at El Alamein on the North Coast of Egypt. Lost but not forgotten... for sure. Beautiful photos, Owen!

Nevine

Tom Bejgrowicz said...

This world is both a beautiful and tragic place, indeed. One moment is filled with inspiration, only to be replaced with dismay in another… and vice versa.

I literally just read this article before checking out your blog today. How can people continue to refute this? Typically they're people who have never seen the damage at all, of course.

Stickup Artist said...

Oh my, you never fail to get me all riled up. It is disgraceful how some people treat this jewel of a planet we inhabit. We have a giant oil spill on our gulf coast that brings tears of sadness and anger to my eyes. What a tragedy. It is extremely effective to place the ugly next to the lovely. And right on the ocean. I'm sputtering...

Jo said...

Ewwwww... What awful things we humans do to our planet ... and our animals. Poor little Mr. Toad.

And that awful brown river. Omigoodness. We are the only animal that fouls our nest, and continues to live in it. Yuck.

Intersting photos, though!

louciao said...

Mr. Toad,
I am pleased that you enjoyed my Bactrian Rhapsody. You are so generous here in your own blog with praising/promoting others, as well as in leaving encouraging, thoughtful comments when out visiting, that I felt moved to repay you in kind. I'm certain that the 3 people who regularly tune into my blog will agree with all I had to say about you. I am also amused by how you turned my Ode to a Toad into a trophy and hopped away with it back to your toadhole to stick it up at the top of your shelf. Why not? If the toadskin shoe fits, wear it proudly.
***

How much ugliness, despair and destruction must humankind create before waking up to the beauty of the world that is being eroded by ignorance, selfishness, greed, and...what? self-disgust and hatred?? Even in the village where I live I am appalled by the trash dumped near a beautiful and unique walk along a dyke that borders peaceful fields on one side, and a powerful river on the other; to say nothing of a sort of slag heap from a limestone mine that was dumped and left to fester and stink at the other end of this dyke. The government has declared it "non-toxic." Ha! I wonder what their definition of "non-toxic" might be.

I will get off my soapbox now.

Karine A. said...

une invitation à la réflexion ..
Que sommes nous en train de faire à notre pauvre joli monde?
Depuis le crapaud qui ne peut même plus rejoindre sa fiancée de l'autre coté de la route sans avoir 50 % de chances de se faire écrabouiller, en passant par les animaux marins qui n'ont pas de voiture mais du pétrole pour se bousiller la vie, et l'homme, l'animal soit disant intelligent qui empoisonne la vie de tous, et la sienne pour commencer...
Tout cela me rend triste...

Catherine said...

I love that final shot - what a beautiful sky!!

Catherine said...

I sign Catherine II because there's already Catherine I above my comment (not a reference to Catherine The Great, I'm not megalomaniac to that point ! not yet ! ;-)
Well, first, with toads or not, BP exports itself all over the planet ! Gulf of Mexico is particularly well-served at this time. BP will create some other kinds of carcasses without the help of cars on the road....directly....from the producer to the innocent and unvolontary "consumer", I mean sea animals. What will be the cost for BP to compensate the consequences compared to the price Nature will pay ? Disproportional and unequal.

Concerning the beaches of La Réunion, I wonder why none guide mention that open-air talasso is available in La Reunion. What a huge mud bath on your pictures !
with all conveniences :-) and a wonderful sight of dream ! I'm with you, Mr toad, it is still a beautiful place, this planet of ours...what remains, at least !

babbler said...

Dear Owen,
Ditto, ditto and ditto to all of these wonderful comments from your friends and fans, myself included. I am all aflutter, first at seeing that poor road-toad, (I had to shield the screen from the eyes of my froggy friend "Fargylicius" who lives in a fishtank directly behind my chair where I post Mr. Slugs Adventures..) and then deeply moved by the homage you tenderly paid to our fallen soldiers, and again moved by the sheer beauty of the sight of your wanderings in vivid color, pictures that remind me I need to make a sudden left turn somewhere, for no reason, in my sliding through my 'morrow.

Perhaps I shall take my camera with me to capture an unexpected thing, as Reunion island can be found in some of the most unlikely places, and the details of a day spent on the yellow brick road cannot be captured without first making a solid plan to be free and easy. Thank you from the bottom of my metal sliding plate for the inspiration! I have been working my mantle to the bone and my optical tentacles are seeing triple this week, but I promise I will not complain and create a set of new furrows over my sweatty brow, I will be happy that I was able to take a virtual vacation this evening to get a sip of your frothy blended cold drink and have a chat with all of you like minded kids in this fun virtual sandbox you have generously provided for our enjoyment. I could go on, but I think you know where I'm slidin' with this! I wish you a colorful, profitable, memorable and enriched day with all the trimmings! Love from Mr. and Mrs. Slug, tails on the couch here at Slug's Rest! :)

The Native said...

Do not speak of trash heap Mr Toad, speak about "waste separation for recycling purposes". That way, anybody can find a treasure he needs......

There's a couple of decades, we could have found the same heap in some corners of France....maybe, still....Progress and mind education has a long way to travel up to us.

Peter said...

Of course we must perhaps be a bit indulgent when it comes to ecological behavior, depending on the country or region we visit. We should start looking at our own behavior, our dustbins (I know I’m not separating as well as I should)… When it comes to what is flushed out into the ocean here, the problem is of course that now there is not only the brown soil, but a mix of soil and a lot more and I presume that the “a lot more “ is the real problem.
We are all – too slowly – learning to behave better, but it will for long remain a compromise between urgent survival and more long-term issues. Let’s hope and keep on “fighting”; your post is part of it!

Alberto Oliver said...

Water??, yak. Wonder if that is all tourist are able to leave behind everytime they visit in hoards a place like that. Sometimes i wonder (well, the true is that i am fully convinced) if we aren´t already so much homo sapiens dwelling in this planet, less humans more frogs!! hehe, it sounds good for an hypotetic political campaign among toad town, but maybe they are too perfect as for thinking in such a thing like politics. Haha, and when watching those toilettes i did remember a childhood joke, about airplanes throwing out their wastes down to earth and i, very worried about getting a proper umbrella for the task. =)

Gwen Buchanan said...

oh now look at that poor little corpse... no worries any more.. but forever remembered in this state.. probably the first and last picture ever taken of him... and he never knew it.. and never will..

Gwen Buchanan said...

but it is very touching...

Owen said...

Amy, the skies down there were simply awesome nearly every day, clear in the mornings, but quickly clouding up, but often quickly changing, and sunsets the likes of which I haven't seen in a long long time. Yes indeed, it was really sad to see how in alot of places trash or wrecked cars were just left by the roadsides... there will be more posts to come with some further examples, but just shocking to me that a tropical island belonging to a major european country could let things slide like that. Surprising that the island's residents allow it...

Owen said...

Hi Clytie,
There in the port the concentration of muck in the water was very visible and highly concentrated, but away from the ports, the beaches were no doubt just as dangerous to human health, as they'd been closed after water tests were done, although the pollution was less visible. For some reason that old old quote from W.C. Fields just came to mind : "I don't drink water, fish fuck in it..."

As for the roadkill, this isn't the first post I've done on roadkill, and surely not the last. It's one of my pet peeves with the human race, we go racing about in our fabulous motor cars, while massacring any thing that dares to cross the road in front of us. The carnage is horrendous. It's almost impossible to drive anywhere without seeing some roadkill. It's heartwrenching every time for me. Just another visible proof of our arrogance. Would like to see your oppossum photo... I have a series of oppossum photos I'm going to post one of these days, of one that came to a bad end when her tail got snagged on a barb of a barbed wire fence... The subject of barbed wire fences is another notion I abhor...

And although I love my daughters dearly, I don't ask for their permission before posting controversial or shocking subject matter... but then they don't look at my blog much either...
:-)

Owen said...

Ah K'line, est-ce qu'il reste des sanctuaires non-polluées par l'homme ? J'ai bien peur pour notre petit coin de l'univers... de toutes les possibilités que nous avions comme race, il me semblent que nous avons choisi certaines des pires...

Bon courage et bon weekend à toi !
Bisoux...

Owen said...

Dear LGS,
I'm glad, most venerable squirrel, that you have survived your various road crossings in life and have avoided becoming squirrel pizza on highway... may you live long and prosper to blog contentedly into the distant future... And I'm glad then if you enjoyed the cemetery piece from WWI.

Owen said...

Hi @eloh, hmmm, no trash but open sewage... I'd say the first could be to a certain degree caused by anal retentive qualities, but not the second...
LOL

Owen said...

Chère Clo;
Je suis bien content de ton passage que j'arrive enfin à lire et apprécier pour répondre ce soir. Tu as plus que raison, j'ai bien peur que la facture va être plus que salée, elle va être lourde. On vit dans l'insouciance la plus complète, bien qu'il y ait des signes partout...

Je ne saurais pas dire si des requins peuvent avoir mal au ventre, quand on voit les choses qu'ils/elles arrivent à avaler et apparrement digérer sans se faire trop de mal, quelles créatures étonnantes. Et même les requins on les massacre à une vitesse... ça va être marrant quand il n'y aura plus de requins, ni de baleines, ni de saumons sauf ceux en provenance des élévages pourris....

Ah, mais mille pardons, je deviens bien aigri par moments... dans ta compagnie j'aimerais être un peu moins apre, un peu plus doux...

Je te souhaite un excellent weekend Clo, plein de bonnes choses. Je t'ai dit que la grenouille m'a offert une nouvelle machine à café ??? Tu peux passer quand tu veux pour l'essayer...
:-)

Owen said...

Dear Vicky, ahhh, cool but hideous, I love how you manage to reconcile your revulsion in one neat little package of a phrase... you are indeed gifted with language, I admire that in a woman, especially when she plays the git-fiddle and sings with gusto. And surely there must be some roadside toilets in Ireland. I'll bet any money that if I show up I'll be able to find one... I'm a specialist you see...
:-)))

Owen said...

Swashbuckling Steve... of course it was gravy ! I'm surprised no one else saw through the disguise... and you can be sure, there were plenty of sausages floating in it...

You are too funny my friend ! You know, when I was little in the USA, my favorite meal which I would ask for on my birthday was roast beef with yorkshire pudding and the excellent thick brown gravy me ole mum knew how to whip up... I can see it now, and smell it, and feel the texture of the yorkshire pudding as I cut into it... corr, that was heaven...

Owen said...

Hi Dusty,
Many thanks for the kind word, I'm really happy if you've been enjoying visiting here from time to time... do leave a comment when you can so I'll know you've been by... ummm, as for the anatomical details on the flattened beastie, I can assure you it was either a toad or a frog, I looked at it quite closely, and turned it over after taking the photo. The back legs are clearly amphibian. What might look a bit like a beak on the photo is in reality a bit of skull bone or jaw that got sort of exploded out that way with the high pressure of the passing automobile or truck that did him/her in... Definitely not a bird, and not a feather in sight...

Owen said...

Dear Nevine,
Why is it that my pulse quickens when I see you've been by ? Strange thing that. Fortunately there'd been no signs of people actually using the discarded toilet by the sea... and the one in the trash heap was upside down to discourage passing discharges. If I've been able to bring a little glimmer of a smile to your lips, then I am happy... And oh how I'd love to go see Egypt and go looking for traces of past wars there. I wonder if anything still remains of Napoleon's visit ?

Anyway, I promise I shall try to avoid meeting the same fate as my brother toad in the photo, in order to continue blogging a while longer yet, in order to try to continue to bring smiles to distant corners of the planet...

Owen said...

Hey Tom !
Just read the article you linked to... (how did you do that, by the way, what is the html code that allows putting a link in a comment ??? I've sometimes tried, but being html challenged as I am, I didn't succeed).

Anyway, yes, just read the article at :

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100510/ts_afp/unenvironmentbiodiversityeconomy

and for sure, it is short but awful, and will be looking at the link in it to the UN report here shortly. What just kills me is that no one is talking about human population, other than to say it will inevitably be growing to 9 or 10 billion in a few years time... Seems to me that that is exactly what the real root cause is of the majority of the problems affecting the ecological situation. But no one wants to take on that question, not that I've seen anywhere in the mainstream press anyway... color me very apprehensive... Thanks in any case for the link !

Owen said...

Hey Stickup... sputter away ! There is plenty to sputter about ! If only we could all sputter at once in the right direction, maybe we could sort of flood away a few useless politicians with our sputtered spittle, and put some people in public office who are really concerned about the planet, and not about money from lobbies... watch out, I'll be sputtering right beside you in a second here...

Owen said...

Hi Jo !

And we are doing a fine job of fouling our nest at that... and before long there will be no place to hide, we will all have to live in the fouled places I fear...

Owen said...

Dear Big Sis Lynne,
You may stay on your soap box here as long as you like. And if you exceed the number of letters allowed for one comment, you are welcome to leave multiple entries, to your heart's content...

It is just so effing unbelievably appalling what we can see without hardly trying in even remote places, traces of man's pride, arrogance, and utter disregard for the well being of our mother earth... If you have a sec take a quick look at the article linked to in Tom's comment, short but sickeningly sweet...

And you are just unbelievable... you sure caught me by surprise and floored me. Usually that only happens when the Saj has been around with those vicious, traitorous drinks she brews. Of course I put it up on the most visible top shelf, and there it shall stay as long as this blog lives. And who knows, with that link right there at the top, maybe the number of regular visitors at your place will climb from three to four, or even five ??? Wait and see...

Have a great weekend, oh crazy one...

Owen said...

Chère Karine A.,
Il y a bien des choses qui se passent ces jours-ci pour nous laisser confus, perplexes, tristes, et bien trop peu de personnes qui proposent de vraies solutions. C'est ça qui me sidère plus que toute autre chose. On sait qu'il y a des aberrations un peu partout, mais personne parmi nos "leaders" n'a vraiment le courage d'agir. J'ai bien peur que quand on se reveille enfin, ça va être un peu trop tard... ah nous de créer un monde meilleur... avec de l'art, de la beauté, du bon sens...

Bon weekend Karine, bises !

Owen said...

Catherine I (from Mexico) ahhh, glad you liked the sky shot... best to focus on the good things in life, and on blogs perhaps...
:-)

=====================

Catherine II (de Paris) Catherine the Great, of course we can give you the honorary title, all is possible in the blogosphere, without any fear of charges of megalomania. I do love your comment, and you certainly wield the tongue of Shakespeare with considerable ease and fluidity, I doff my hat to you, and say, "Chapeau Madame"... And I certainly am regretting that I did not find the part in my Guide de Routard nor in my Petit Futé, nor anywhere else that there were giant mud baths available for free in several places in la Réunion... for sure I would have been in there in a flash, if someone had shown me the way... I love mud baths, and massages, and a sauna + cool shower after... You are so right about BP and the other oil barons. La facture sera lourde je craigns...

Bon weekend à toi oh Great one...
bises !

Owen said...

Dear Mrs Slug, with greetings to Mr Slug and Fargylicious, my my for a slug you certainly do have the most charming and wonderful way with words of wisdom and good cheer... oh that your load of work may ease soon to leave you free to slide to your heart's content to all corners of your local universe, leaving no stone unturned while looking for refreshing new visions, and just think of all the cousins you may find under all those over turned stones... Yes indeed, do slide on in to the virtual slug sandbox whenever you wish, you have a permanent entry ticket, good for life... not to be traded away or sold though... and some slugs would pay very dearly to get their little mantles on one, yes hold on to it tightly lest some ill-intentioned slug slip out their tail in hopes of tripping you up as you go sliding by one day...

And so glad to hear Mr Slug got his suit just in time. But pray tell, do slug suits come with a plastic lining to keep the slime from oozing out the seams at inopportune moments at slug luncheons ? And does the plastic lining not cause a temperature problem causing excessive sweating to augment the sliming issue until there is litterally a puddle under the slug chair at the fine table ? Or do polite slugs simply ignore such issues ?

Bye for now... happy sliding...

Owen said...

Dear Native,
I stand corrected, of course it was not a trash heap, but rather an ecological opportunity site... and you are certainly right, France is by no means clean of such eyesores. Where I drive to work every day an entire valley is being filled in by an endless stream of trucks bearing wastes from Paris...

Owen said...

Peter, indeed, indeed, we must continue to believe, and to fight, in every small way we can as individuals in this massive machine we've created around us...

ooofff, but the road will be long and arduous...

Owen said...

Dear Alberto, I hope you got a big umbrella finally ! We may all need one... And I fear you are right... we definitely need more toads, more frogs, and less humans... I have no doubt about it either...

Owen said...

Hi Gwen !
Very happy to see you back in circulation, hope you've been busy with all sorts of artistic endeavors. I wish I had the ability to draw, so as to do a sketch of the flat toad here... maybe someone with wonderful ink drawing skills could do a little sketch from the photo... hint hint, nudge nudge...
:-)
Be well and a fine weekend to you...

Nathalie said...

Wow Owen, I'm just back from Lynn's blog and what a fantastic tribute she paid to you - a well-deserved one too!

Now for your two last photos here - what a stunning contrast. And to think that the difference between the two is only the tilt of a camera...

I've always wanted to do this: show two photos, one of the top-tourist shot and the next one taken from the same place but turning around 180° or simply with a different angle. The difference can be stunning, eh?