Sometimes our appreciation of a picture is enhanced when we learn the story behind it: how it was photographed, or the larger context in which it took place. A series of pictures, whether seconds or seaons apart, gives us more story than a single image. Gay enjoyed creating photo series and she worked hard to get them right — so that the view of a tree in all 4 seasons feels like a continuous action. A photo series implies action which enhances interest and gives viewers a greater sense of connection with the characters and events thereby creating a more memorable visual image. In "Stories" we share Gay's journals with Sharon's editorial tongue in cheek commentary. We practice our voices, weaving a narrative thread and then trying another as we explore our lives -- finding what we want to say and what we must express. We welcome comments and we hope you will enjoy this experiment of images and text.

The Toad and Worm: A Series

This was Gay's signature photo until she took the photo 'Quarter Horses Running in Snow." In an interview with Sierra Club author J. Boice for the book "Mother Earth" Gay said, "You never have a field with one animal in it; they are always interacting with each other. The worm is the same size as the toad - they have the same significance."

In this series the American toad, Bufo Americanus woodhousei, or Fowlers toad takes on a very large earthworm in what will be a remarkable and ritualized struggle between two very sensitive animals.

The outcome is far from certain as they pit their wits, patience, stance and timing. This picture suggests many captions or moral tales including "Be careful what you ask for" and "Don't bite off more than you can chew." It also raises the question about the value of the worm as a reward for early rising. Perhaps the 'late bird' gets croissants.

In the conquest of an earthworm the toad must be patient and wait until it rains and the worm emerges to mate. Perhaps one place is more likely than another for them to emerge or perhaps the toad can hear an earthworm coming.

In battle, an earthworm uses its longitudinal and circular muscles to become longer, shorter, squirmier, and multi-directional.

The toad rears back to shake the worm and then using one or two small hands begins to stuff the worm in its' mouth. In a series of moves played out over and over by worms and toads the world over.... The toad hunches over on one elbow getting better traction. Its nictating membranes (the 3rd eyelid) closes over its eyes to protect from the squirming worm.

At a certain point, with most of the worm in it's mouth, the toad always takes a break. Then with a mighty effort it sucks the rest inside.

The final position is the whole body pucker. The toad with his attention focused inwards, holds himself tight and still, assuring that the swallowed worm stays put.

Viewed outside the context of his recent meal the toad stands alone. He appears grounded, prayerful, and balanced. We call him Buddha Toad.

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