‘A List’* For Muse Day

One morning Toad sat in bed.
“I have many things to do,” he said.
“I will write them
all down on a list
so that I can remember them.”
Toad wrote on a piece of paper:
A List of things to do today
Then he wrote:
Wake up
I have done that,” said Toad,
and he crossed out:
Wake up

Then Toad wrote other things
on the paper.

A List of things to do today
Wake Up
Eat Breakfast
Get Dressed
Go to Frog’s House
Take walk with Frog
Eat lunch
Take nap
Play games with Frog
Eat Supper
Got To sleep

“There,” said Toad.
“Now my day
is all written down.”
He got out of bed
and had something to eat.
Then Toad crossed out:
Eat Breakfast

Toad took his clothes
out of the closet
and put them on.
Then he crossed out:
Get Dressed
Toad put the list in his pocket.

He opened the door
and walked out into the morning.
Soon Toad was at Frog’s front door.
He took the list from his pocket
and crossed out:
Go to Frog’s House

Toad knocked at the door.
“Hello,” said Frog.
“Look at my list
of things to do,”
said Toad.
“Oh,” said Frog,
“that is very nice.”
Toad said, “My list tells me
that we will go
for a walk.”
“All right,” said Frog.
“I am ready.”

Frog and Toad
went on a long walk.
Then Toad took the list
from his pocket again.
He crossed out:
Take walk with Frog
Just then there was a strong wind.
It blew the list
out of Toad’s hand.
The list blew high up
into the air.
“Help!” cried Toad.
“My list is blowing away.
What will I do without my list?”

“Hurry!” said Frog.
“We will run and catch it.”
“No!” shouted Toad.
“I cannot do that.”
“Why not?” asked Frog.
“Because,” wailed Toad,
“running after my list
is not one of the things
that I wrote
on my list of things to do!”

Frog ran after the list.
He ran over hills and swamps,
but the list blew on and on.
At last Frog came back to Toad.
“I am sorry,” gasped Frog,
“but I could not catch
your list.”
“Blah,” said Toad.

“I cannot remember any of the things
that were on my list of things to do.
I will just have to sit here
and do nothing,” said Toad.
Toad sat and did nothing.
Frog sat with him.
After a long time Frog said,
“Toad, it is getting dark.
We should be going to sleep now.”

“Go to sleep!” shouted Toad.
“That was the last thing on my list!”
Toad wrote on the ground
with a stick: Go to sleep
Then he crossed out:
Go to sleep
“There,” said Toad.
“Now my day
is all crossed out!”
“I am glad,”
said Frog.
Then Frog and Toad
went right to sleep.


*’A List’ by Arnold Lobel
from the book Frog And Toad Together

If you are not familiar with the Frog And Toad books, I hope this whets your appetite. Meant to be read aloud, by adult or by a child, the words carry sophisticated ideas well beyond the basic storyline. When offspring Gardoctor and Brokenbeat were young, Chickenpoet and Semi were reading their own books by this time, this series of stories were their favorites, and mine, and we read them over and over. We still have the original copies from those long ago times. Also in Frog And Toad Together is my most favorite of all stories, ‘The Dream’. The depth of the lesson in that story is the stuff of a doctoral thesis. I am going to recommend that you get these books, but if you only buy one, let it be this one. Clicking here will take you to its Amazon page. I have received no recompense for this endorsement, but consider it a public service. Interesting to note that the price tag, still on my 1979 book, was $2. 95. There has been some inflation since then, but it is still a bargain.

Since this is a gardening blog, most of the time, it was decided that ‘A List’ was pertinent for April’s Muse Day, sponsored by Carolyn Gail of Sweet Home And Garden Chicago, rather than my favorite tale about Frog and Toad, ‘The Dream’. The Fairegarden method has always included lists. Maybe not to the extent of Toad’s obsession, but very nearly so. The prime time for list making is during the winter, as ideas creep into the cerebral folds, brilliant plans sometimes entering consciousness in a dream, or inspired by a book or magazine article, or yes, even a blog post, that we don’t want to forget so write them down. From January through March, reams of paper are used, for there is nothing as satisfying as sitting in the lazyboy with pen in hand and scribbling on the pulp of farmed trees. Shuffling the pages, looking up the names of plants purchased or where something might have been moved in a fit of rearranging satisfies the soul during the non gardening times.

But come April, the list making flies away on a gust of wind, like Toad’s Blah moment. Too many things happen too quickly to be written down as the garden comes fully alive then. Often we are too tired to make journal entries and to do lists when coming into the house after long arduous hours toiling in the soiling. Weeding is hard work. The effort is made to remember to make those posts into the pages, for we know those words help us remember what happened and where things went, making for entertaining reading at a later date. The items on the to do list list are dutifully crossed off as they are accomplished. Then it’s Go to sleep.


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28 Responses to ‘A List’* For Muse Day

  1. Edith Hope says:

    Dear Frances, I so enjoyed the Toad story and the beautiful illustrations. I should imagine that these books, which I had not come across before, have delighted countless children, including your own, as well as adults since they were first published. As you say, a simple idea with multiple meanings and different shades of interpretation.

    I do so admire your self discipline in the making of lists. I have to confess, I avoid them with a passion!

    My warmest wishes to you for a very Happy Easter.

  2. lotusleaf says:

    Charming story. Reminds me of ‘The Wind in the Willows’by Kenneth Graham, which was my Favourite as a child.

  3. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I love the illustrations in this book. I too am a list maker. It feels so good to be able to cross off those chores. My poor journal is done in fits and spurts this time of year. So much I want to do and so little energy it seems. I also like the days when I add to the list things that weren’t on the list in the first place and I get to mark them off anyway. Ha…

  4. Liisa says:

    These books are among my favorites, in addition to “The Wind in the Willows.” I always loved the illustrations, even as a kid. I am a diligent list-maker, and carry my lists around referring to them as “my brains.” With school there is so much being jammed and squished into my brain that some things get lost in those cerebral folds. I do take great pleasure in being able to cross things off.
    Your moss and Heuchera photo is fabulous, Frances. We will be enjoying the mid-70’s by Sat. Have a wonderful weekend!!

  5. debbie says:

    My children too loved Frog and Toad books. Thanks for reminding me of many pleasant moments.

  6. Loved the reading of “The List”. I, like you, am a list maker. My lists are always to long to finish – I think that’s amazing – my life is so full to get everything done! Happy Easter.

  7. Sweet Bay says:

    Lists are sometimes a necessary evil (grocery store) but overall I don’t like them, even though I’m “guilty” of making them. My lifelong goal has been to live in the moment.

  8. Frances – a wonderful story!

    I have a newsprint tablet (that artists use for inexpensive sketching paper). I use a fine point sharpie and draw and scribble and list and list and draw the garden plan…again and again…. I do love to look over my drawings.

    My son picks up my tablet from time to time and can actually make sense of my scribbles. He told me not to through the tablet away! He sees it as a journal of my gardening ideas.

  9. Darla says:

    Lists are very important around here…What a charming book…it is getting to be a very busy time in the gardens…just what we have been waiting for, right?

  10. I loved your frog and toad story. I’m going to save this email as my grandchildren are going to be here for Easter and I want to read it to them. Or better yet, they may be able to read it to me. 4 & 5 years old. Thanks for the story.

  11. Rose says:

    Thanks for bringing back so many memories, Frances! Yes, I think we still have this book somewhere here; I remember reading this to the kids, but I had forgotten the story. I am definitely Mr. Toad:) I am an inveterate list-maker, but if I lose my list, I’m lost. A journal is another story–I pledged to do better this year, but March is curiously empty. Which reminds me, I’d better go write down when I started all these seeds…

  12. TC Conner says:

    I’m afraid that if I start makin lists, I’ll run out of paper!

    (I asked you earlier about how to start a collection of garden fairies. Either you didn’t see it, or forgot to respond.)

    We have been away, TC, but I thought there was a response to your inquiry about having fairies in your garden. Several posts were written about that very topic and the links were presented at the bottom of the fairy broom post.

  13. nancybond says:

    I could not get through my days without lists. Unfortunately, I tend to write mine on bits of paper or in several little notepads, and they’re scattered all over the place…much like my thoughts half the time. 🙂 I enjoyed the story, and it’s always a joy to see what’s growing in your beautiful garden. Happy Easter, Frances!

  14. Anna says:

    I will keep my eyes open for Frog and Toad – wonder if they have made it across the pond. I must admit that I got into the habit of making lists at work. They helped me to prioritise and to make me realise that I had achieved tasks even on days when it did not seem like I had. Off now to make a shopping list for tomorrow 🙂

  15. Oh Gail,
    I do love to make lists…I am quite (in)famous for them 😉
    I do love the Frog & Toad books and your post brought many great memories.

  16. Catherine says:

    I love these books and they have been fun to read to my girls.
    I’m a big list maker. I have lists everywhere and there is nothing more satisfying than crossing things off. I even add things to my list that I accomplished that weren’t originally there just so I can cross them off too. I start lots of garden related lists too during the winter, mainly ideas of what I want to achieve during the warmer months.

  17. Lola says:

    Loved the Toad story.
    If I make list I seem to never follow them. I just do what comes up.

  18. What a lovely little story. I’m not familiar with the Frog and Toad books, but I am now thanks to you!

  19. sb158 says:

    Couldn’t even begin to count the number of times I read those books to my 3; then they read them to grandsons…
    As for lists, had them all over the place until I got a Blackberry with a memo pad…now they’re all in my phone! Some of them actually get crossed off, too.

  20. Love the frog and toad story! Also that great Heuchera! Lots does happen in the garden in April, even here as we’ve had a warm spell. I must cut back my lavender before it buds and a hundred other things… making a list would overwhelm me… I just gotta get out and get started SOMEwhere. Happy Easter!

  21. I just checked my library’s online catalog and they have several Frog & Toad books, which I’ve requested.

  22. Kiki says:

    AWw..so cool! I love this..I am toad kindred and enjoyed this very much! thanks for sharing this magic! A delightful read! Blessings and joy!

  23. Happy Easter Frances.

    I bet it’s great looking over the journal from seasons gone by.

  24. Love the analogy, Frances! I’ve never seen this book before, as far as I can remember, but I’m charmed by it. My list has not yet flown away, but I think today it was lost in the fog.
    I hope you and your family have a wonderful Easter this weekend.

  25. Christine B. says:

    My kids love those Frog and Toad books. I do make a list for myself, but more of a seasonal big projects list, than a day to day list, though that might be a good idea. I would probably get more accomplished. I used to be very diligent about making notes in my garden journal, but alas, that good habit has fallen by the wayside.

    Christine in Alaska

  26. Dear Frances, what a wonderful post :o)

    I just popped by to wish you a very Happy Easter,

    RO xxx

  27. Jenny B says:

    Frances, I do love the Toad and Frog books. I have this exact one, and read it to Loudon, but truly, I think I am more appreciative of the lesson of the story than he. I am a list maker, who is the daughter of a list maker, etc. So it appeals to to me. If I write it down, I don’t have to worry about forgetting it–unless of course, I forget where I put that
    !?@# list!

    Happy Easter!

  28. Grace says:

    Hi Frances~~ I’ve still got my children’s copies of the Frog and Toad books. They’re packed away now for the future grandkids. They are such simplistically delightful stories.

    My lists are usually of your similar “oh, that’s a good idea. Quick, write it down,” mentality. It’s way too easy to forget. Lately I’ve taken to writing my wish list in my phone’s “notepad.” It seemed too complicated until I began to lose my fear of electronic devices.

    I enjoyed this trip down [Frog and Toad] memory lane.

    Hi Grace, thanks, it sounds like we are both of the same mindset, saving precious books for grandchildren. I am still fearful of only electronic lists, after losing so many things on the computer through various circumstances. I have better luck with paper. 🙂

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