Have you ever heard the story of the toad?
One day, oh I’d guess 110 years ago, in a land painted with pine trees, bubbling brooks filled with glass pebbles finely crafted through centuries of the water sanding, smoothing, shaping, and shifting to the perfect arrangement, there stood a fine young toad. This particular chaps name was Chester. Chester was a sincere, passionate, and mighty pleasant fellow.
I assume your kin weren’t toads so I will fill you in on a secret here. The toads are an incredibly intelligent specimen. They’re cognitive. They’re communicative. They’re creative. They also are wise enough to know they must hide their talents for their own kind, lest someone of a more greedy nature see their truth and exploit them for profit to be spent at the local pub.
Chester was not fit to maintain tradition for traditions sake. Indeed, he was chastised for his unprecedented adventures, his boldness, and his brains which had both saved his skin and lost his dinner more than once. Chester’s home was in a brook that ran through Winslow’s property. This gentlemen, who more resembled a moose than man, was only seen when collecting firewood and dragging carcasses through the field to his cottage. His solace from life.
Though the cottage was secluded and served it’s purpose to the old man, it was not far from town and more than once Chester had witnessed people teasing, taunting, and it wouldn’t be inaccurate to say tormenting Winslow. He knew he should uphold the values his clan had worked so hard to invest in him but he couldn’t withstand the thought that maybe there was more to learn. See, much of life as Chester had noticed, was about maintaining what is, protecting what has been, and refraining from what could be. Back to that one day I referred to.
Chester hopped his way from glassy pebble to glassy pebble and through the blades of grass that stood like Sequoias on this Spring morning. The sun was pushing down the tips of the dew touched pines and Chester found himself rather quickly at the window sill of Winslow’s cabin. The fire was glowing and the man sat on the floor with his back against the wall. His beard filled with wood-shavings and his balding head covered with a woven hat of wool. The man was speaking, his eyes were closed and he was alone, but Chester being the intelligent and ever curious toad he was, listened as the man continued on.
The man spoke of history, of times past. He cried over life in it’s current state. He dreamed over what would come, when the sun climbed the pines the next day. Day upon day, Chester hopped his way to the window sill where he learned the stories of generations past, distant lands, of things not even his dreams could have created
This morning in particular Chester jumped onto the windowsill to see the man in his usual spot, head tilted against the wall, wool hat sitting like it was carelessly dropped onto his head, fire simmering, and stories flowing like the babbling brook. Today was different- the man was slouched over, the hat had fallen off. The fire was out and the man was white like snow. Toads have a very different pigment than the ordinary human but even they lose color when their days are done.
Chester sat on the sill and knew he had a decision to make. There was no point in lamenting the life that had no love but the time to learn had come to it’s end. Chester had to decide to go back to his clan and continue life with the other toads, catching flies, and bathing on pebbles or he could risk everything he was familiar with and pursue the possibility that even one thing Winslow had spoken was worth pursuing. Being the courageous toad he was, Chester set forth to lose all he had in the far fetched hope of gaining something that might help someone, even if it were not meant for himself.