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🕊️ A Special Report from the Toadstool Times

Published about 1 year ago • 9 min read

Letter from the Editor

Dear friends:

We want to apologize for missing our last two newsletters—it's with a heavy heart that we must report the news of our dear friend Cody's passing. 😔

Tomás was so overwhelmed with sorrow after saying goodbye to his dear friend that we were unable to publish the last two issues as planned.

Cody was a beloved member of our farm family, and we’re all still processing his passing in our own time.

We appreciate your grace during this time of transition. 🤍

To that end, please note that this week's issue honors Cody with an obituary and a how-to article about creating a memorial garden for a loved one.

Given the nature of the subject, some readers may find this content sensitive. Please consider this before proceeding.

And in other news:

After this issue, Tomás will be stepping out on an extended personal leave to grieve and reflect upon what's next for him.

When asked about how he plans to spend his time away, Tomás replied:

"For the foreseeable future, I plan to silence my phone and wallow in my burrow, binge-eating Lice Cream and Deep-Flied Pickles while catching up on Succession. I'll probably write some poetry for good measure. Eventually, I'll re-read the Tao Te Ching, do some light yoga, and emerge renewed—and ready to work. Just like always." 🐸

Don't worry about old Tommy. He'll be just fine... just needs a little time.

Meanwhile, the show must go on!

Our goal at the Toadstool Times is to continue delivering the highest quality nature-related news however we can, whenever we can.

And to do so, we plan to feature guest reporters from the farm—and beyond. 🌎

This week, we're joined by Sunny the Songbird, a local Borzi Farm resident.

As a songbird, Sunny is used to flitting from tree to tree, chirping on about the latest farm happenings. She's excited to bring her cheery disposition and love of all things nature to the Toadstool Times in a more formal capacity.

Tomás said he's "hoppy as a lark" to have Sunny filling in while he's away, and I agree.

Meanwhile, we all appreciate your support and grace as we move a bit more slowly in the weeks and months to come. ❤️

Because really, the Toadstool Times isn't a linear publication—it's a flow state of existence where Imagination meets Nature. And that kind of news cycle really needs to run organically. Hopefully you understand.

With gratitude,

-kb


Remembering Cody, My Golden Companion

By Tomás the Toad

Born sometime in June in 2007, Cody found his way to Mark and Kathy's hearts in 2012 by way of a Craigslist ad—his third rehoming in just five years.

Despite a bumpy start to finding the right family fit, he found his forever home as a Borysiak.

For the next decade then some, Cody spent each moment being coddled and cuddled like the good boy he was... right up until the end.

Cody's last day on earth was absolutely perfect.

He was treated to sunshine: nearly 70 degrees, without a cloud in the sky.

He ate like a king: the menu included a Pupperccino, a Wendy's Baconator, and a Chipotle carnitas bowl.

And he took a long walk around a brand new-park—nearly a mile!

And as he walked, he pushed forward with strength and zest, smiling every step of the way.

He hadn't shown that kind of strength in months. It was as though he knew his moments were limited—and he had every intention of going out with a bang.

At the golden hour, the family returned home and gathered beneath the White Pines and surrounded Cody with his favorite things.

And as Cody nibbled on his last bites of carnitas and reflected on what a long, rich life he'd lived, he was content.

He'd traveled the country!

Stepped foot in two oceans!

Saw his parents get married!

Got his very own backyard after years of apartment living.

He'd seen so much and felt more love than he'd thought imaginable. ❤️

At nearly 16, he was ready for his next adventure; ready to live pain-free.

And so as the sun set behind the cornfields on April 10, 2023, Cody took his last breath surrounded by everyone and everything he loved and cared about.

It was a beautiful, peaceful transition, and he was welcomed by an entire family of animal companions on the other side waiting to usher him across the Rainbow Bridge. 🌈

We will forever miss Cody's hustle and bustle here on Earth.

And while we grieve the loss deeply, we also take great comfort in knowing that our faithful friend is longer in pain—and that his memory will forever live on in our hearts.

To honor his spirit, the entire farm has found solace in working together to build a memorial garden dedicated to Cody.

Cody's Garden is a place where we can all sit beside him and spend time communing with his spirit and reflecting on our shared experiences over the years.

Creating this sacred space has been the cathartic pursuit we've needed to get through the last few weeks.

In fact, we've grown to love the idea of a Memorial Garden so much that we're excited to share what we've learned about creating one with all of you.

Please join me in welcoming Sunny, our newest Toadstool Times reporter, as she shares her creative ideas below.


Remember Your Loved Ones With a Memorial Garden

By Sunny the Songbird

Missing someone close to your heart? Creating a memorial garden may bring you comfort.

A memorial garden is a peaceful place created to honor a loved one who's passed away.

Acting as a sanctuary in nature, it's a dedicated space for family and friends to reflect, remember, and find comfort—often filled with small tokens and nods to their beloved.

Beyond finding comfort in the garden itself, the act of creating one can also be therapeutic—allowing you to channel your grief into a positive and creative outlet.

Studies have found that gardening can boost mood, reduce stress levels, and improve overall well-being—all wonderful ways to cope in the days after saying goodbye to someone you love.

So how do you create a memorial garden of your own?

Let’s explore!

Choose the Right Location

First, you'll need to pinpoint the right place to create your garden.

Find a spot that feels special and meaningful to you—whether it's a corner of your backyard, a patio, a quiet park, or a place in nature that your loved one adored.

And if you don't have access to an outdoor space, don’t worry! There are plenty of ways to create a meaningful space indoors.

Consider creating a memorial with potted plants or even a small window garden in a cozy nook in your home.

The key is to choose a place that your loved one would have enjoyed, and to add living plants and other tokens that make you feel close to them.

🐕 For Cody’s Garden: We chose an outdoor spot underneath the three White Pines, where the setting sun can be seen to the west and clover grows abundantly.

Pick a Focal Point

A focal point serves as a special reminder of your loved one and helps create a serene and peaceful atmosphere.

This could be a statue, a birdbath, a bench, or even a special plant or tree. Choose something that has meaning to you and your loved one.

A focal point can be created indoors as well.

You might choose a special photo, painting, or piece of artwork to display in your home that reminds you of your loved one and brings you comfort.

🐕 For Cody's Garden: Given its location, the flower bed itself really is the focal point. A natural mulch cover surrounded by a trench filled with river stones draws the eye to the garden, even from a distance.

Choose a Design

Next, it's time to start thinking about your design and layout.

There are many ways to approach this, depending on your design constraints and personal preferences.

Some may opt for a simple garden with a few carefully chosen plants and a memorial plaque, while others may create a more elaborate space with benches, statues, and water features.

Others may arrange succulents in a quiet corner of a room.

Ultimately, no two memorial gardens are the same—look to your loved one and the experiences you shared together to help guide this decision-making process.

🐕 For Cody's Garden: We chose a simple circular garden bed, which represents the never-ending circle of life. We subtly split the circle into 12 distinct segments—a nod toward to12 houses in astrology used to represent a soul’s journey throughout life (and beyond).

Select Plants For Your Area

No matter your design, be sure to pick plants and that will thrive in your chosen location.

Consider the amount of sunlight, soil type, and other environmental factors when making your selections.

What works in a well-lit spot almost certainly won’t do well in shade, and vice versa.

Beyond light and soil, think about whether you want to plant annuals (which last only one year) or perennials (which return season after season). There are benefits to each, so think about your situation and consider the right option for you.

As for plant type and color, look to your loved one for inspiration. You may want to brush up on color theory to determine a palette that works best for you!

🐕 For Cody's Garden: We selected a combination of indigo, pink, yellow, and white flowers, as well as some decorative shrubs. We opted for perennials that will come back season after season.

Consider Uninvited Guests

If you have an outdoor area, your garden may attract hungry critters. Plan accordingly.

Deer can cause significant damage to landscaping, but there are several ways to deter them from feasting on your memorial garden.

An easy way to do this is to opt for deer-resistant plants, which have strong scents or bitter tastes that make them unappealing to deer. A few common ones are lavender, yarrow, daffodils, and sage.

You may also research native plants local to your area. Native plants are excellent for enhancing biodiversity and attracting pollinators (the good kind of wildlife guests!), and there are plenty of deer-resistant native varieties that will leave your memorial garden looking sharp, but not snackable.

🐕 For Cody's Garden: Unfortunately, we learned this lesson the hard way. We're replenishing the space with a batch of natives from Prairie Nursery—our favorite native plant site!

Personalizing the Space

Make your memorial garden a truly personalized place by incorporating items that belonged to or represent your loved one.

This could include anything from a favorite garden gnome to a cherished piece of jewelry.

You might also consider creating a special memorial plaque or statue in their honor, or adding a feature like a fountain or bird feeder that they would have enjoyed.

If you’re creating your memorial inside, think about creating a small shrine or altar in your home dedicated to your loved one.

You can incorporate special items that remind you of them, such as a favorite piece of jewelry or a special keepsake.

This part should be fun and creative!

🐕 For Cody's Garden: We’ve chosen to use a service called Parting Stone to transform the remains of Cody’s physical form into beautiful rocks, which we'll add to the center of the garden along with an indoor altar. We're also adding bird feeders to attract song birds to the area.

Maintaining the Space

Once your garden is complete, it's important to care for and maintain it over time.

The act of caring for the space and living plants within it is a way to honor and connect with the spirit of your loved one.

Regular watering and pruning will help your plants thrive and stay healthy. You may also want to add fresh flowers or other decorative elements to the garden from time to time to keep it looking beautiful.

🐕 For Cody's Garden: In addition to adding more natives to the flower bed, we'll eventually add a swing where we can sit and watch the sunset to the west—reflecting on all the fond memories of Cody.

We hope these tips will inspire you to create a beautiful and meaningful memorial garden for your loved one.

And remember, whether you're planting flowers or simply spending time in nature, the natural world has a way of bringing us peace and comfort during times of grief and loss.

❤️


🎨 Activity: Dog's Best Life

Not ready to create a Memorial Garden, but still want to channel your creativity?

Check out this Creative Challenge!

While this activity was created for designers in mind, anyone can tap into their artistic side and create a visual reminder about what it means to live a rich, fulfilling life.

All the directions are in the PDF.

Enjoy!


Until next thyme,


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