Toad in a hole

We have a couple of big trees that nobody can identify with any certainty. I call them crown of thorn trees because one of them possesses long spikes on the branches and around the trunk, like the things people put around lamp posts to stop burglars shinning up them. They are lethal, the longest around 25cm (10″) long, shorter along the branches.

crown of thorns

The leaves and flowers are similar to a sort of mimosa.

Okay. I have done a bit more research, global this time and have discovered what this tree is. It’s not native at all, it’s Mimosa Hostilis (figures) and it’s native to Brazil and the equatorial rain forests. What it’s doing here is a mystery, but it must really hate this climate.

crown of thorns tree

The specimen by the woodpile is inhabited by great capricorn beetles, massive, scary-looking things that devour the tree from the inside. They are a protected species so it’s forbidden to kill them. I personally wouldn’t get close enough to take a swing at one anyway.


There is a hole at the base of the trunk hollowed out by the insects and there are often larvae buried in the sawdust. Yesterday I noticed that the fine red sawdust had been dug out, and looking inside found a toad in residence.


Toad is still there today, keeping cool. It’s a good place to be, living in the larder.


climate changes

wars and revolutions in the streets

corrupt kings flee to friendly palaces

even those who ask nothing

will be swept away



Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

75 thoughts on “Toad in a hole”

      1. The capricorn? They are really ugly bugs. Huge, and they turn their heads and antlers to follow you with their eyes when you get too close. Scary. The grubs are the size of my thumb. I imagine the toad eats them.

      2. I can cope with them unless they are the big clumsy ones that fly erratically, or unless they watch me. That is so unnerving. Or unless they’re cockroaches.

      3. I can’t sleep with moonlight in my face, but other than that, I don’t notice the moon affects my sleep pattern. Usually I don’t sleep. Given up trying to work out why.

      4. Pitch black and completely silent. I’m the kind of person who can hear the fridge through four intervening walls and a mouse chewing a seed under the window outside.

      5. Lest I forget….

        Manuscripts: Black Lawrence press-The Hudson Prize, Black Lawrence press-The St. Lawrence Book Award, Dzanc Books, Manic D Press, Red Hen Press, Red Hen Press Women’s prose prize, Red Hen Press Fiction Award
        Rose metal press/ Featherproof Books-currently no submissions open

        Paying markets for fiction and poetry: University of southern Indiana, VQR, One Story, Pedestal Magazine, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Nashville Review, Okey-Panky, New Haven Review, Grain Magazine, The Georgia Review, Confrontation, Lamp Light Mag, Arsenika, Fractured Lit contest, micro-400w, Event, Room, The Puritan/The Thomas Morton Prize, The Bare Life Review, The Humber literary review, The Sun

      6. Thanks. Did you realise that you have to pay to submit to those fiction publishers? I checked some of the poetry places and they charge a reading fee too. Haven’t checked them all yet.

        There’s no way I’d pay to have my work published, never mind just to have it considered. Yes, they can pay prize money because of the submission charges and I understand that, but if all you want to do is submit a novel, you still have to pay.

        There are so many people making a good living out of other people’s creativity, and the creators get nothing, peanuts at best. Writing has become a real mug’s game.

      7. Oh yes. Now what I really hate is when you have to read some of the things they have published to get the idea if you’re the right fit. And we’re talking about 15-20 dollar books.

        It’s all so sad. I see it now, having had to go though different sites to see if I can find sth suitable. For what?
        To think of how much you have to pay first to even be considered eligible.
        To think of how much you invested to sell yourself so cheaply.
        The ‘best’ offers by far are a copy or two of your book. I mean…You wrote it and YOU have to pay to read it. Outrageous!

      8. I’ll check them out. Thanks.
        The silliest thing I read so far is that some want proof of how many poeople you know and how active you are on social platforms because part of the deal is self marketing. Now I hate that. I’m a writer, not a sales agent.

      9. That’s why I’m not getting involved with any more small publishers. You hear all the time the ‘experts’ telling you all authors have to promote their work, pay for advertising and marketing. It’s not true. No decent publisher expects the author to do that. Marketing is how they earn their cut. You can promote to the people you already know but gathering a market for your book is the publisher’s job. Small publishers who don’t have literary credibility won’t put their books in for serious awards, or get reviewed by serious people. They won’t pay you anything either because they won’t be making any money once they’ve paid themselves. If they ask you about social media and how much work (ie money) you’re prepared to put into the ‘project’, go somewhere else.

      10. So give you grants, as they call them, to promote your own work.
        Btw these were some of the most renowned small publishers, as the site said.
        What are the chances of getting published by the big shots?

      11. You need an agent. That’s the problem, and agents are only looking to make money off you too. If they don’t think they can sell your book, as it is, no editing, they won’t touch it. Publishers don’t want to waste time editing either. If you’ve written something a bit different you’ll have to keep looking until you find someone who really likes it or knows an editor who would take it. It’s as much luck as anything, and good writing doesn’t really carry much weight.

      12. Literary fiction might not sell well, but try getting them to even look down their noses at ‘genre’ fiction. UK agents anyway. The US is different, just not the same language.

      13. One more thing. How big are your novels/ story collections? Mine has 40,000 words. I keep wondering if I should write more. Some editors don’t mention min.word count, others don’t want anything below 45,000.

      14. I don’t know about short stories. I have never tried to collect them. It’s probably a question for the publisher, but I imagine you’d want about 75k worth of words same as for the minimum limit for a novel. My novels tend to be 85-95k but you wouldn’t need that much for a short story collection.

      15. I spent an entire day yesterday writing a synopsis. God, some are so picky and demanding. A two-page synopsis is a whole essay, not a synopsis. I should get paid for reviewing my own work.

    1. Husband hates that tree. There’s a second one growing between two poplars. The bees love it though, the great capricorn beetles obviously feast on it, and their grubs seem to suit the toad, so maybe it’s not so bad. As long as nobody asks me to climb it!

  1. I like three ahape of the tree but it seems to deserve those beetles. I’m glad the toad ppeared o provide some balance.

    And yes, we all will be swept away. Might as well speak up while we can. (K)

    1. The bark is an attractive colour and it’s full of bees when it flowers, but it has seedlings shooting up everywhere, full of spines. The toad is snug though. Until the deluge.

    1. I love the toads. When we walk around at night we pick them up off the lane and put them back in the grass. There’s rarely a car goes past after dark but the toads just sit there.
      Thorns and horned beetles seem to go with arid conditions. They’re in luck.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s