Sunday, April 11, 2010

When Toads Fly

It seems like that would be the kind impossible statement you might yell at someone. “When Toads Fly!” Sort of a more genteel way of telling someone the thing in question was about as likely as snow in the infernal regions. However, one of those two ideas, at least, is possible. At least one time in history a toad did, in fact, fly.

Joshua, Tara, Chris and myself were all at Nana's one afternoon. I was bored and looking for something to do. Those of you who remember me at that age probably remember my incredible capacity for boredom. I tend to jump into things, suck the fun out of them and then discard the husk. I have heard a number of theories on why this is. Whatever the reason, one of my natural states of mind was bored.

When you have such an amazing tendency for boredom you have to learn to think along unconventional lines. You have to look at all the resources you have, no matter how ordinary, and learn to see the possibilities. Whether or not it is a good quality I will leave to philosophers, the point here is that it is a quality I had and have and hope to have in future.

So, I had to consider my resources. What did we have that we could get our hands on? There were the normal things as Nana and Papa's: Crayons, Tape, Cardboard, Toads... Now, some of you may be surprised that toads made the list, but honestly they were everywhere. We would often go hunting for them just to make them jump around or to try to get them to eat things we had caught for them, etc. So, they became a staple in the “supplies” list.

As I was mulling all these objects over I was struck with an idea. What would it be like for a toad to fly? I have no idea why it struck me or where the thought came from, but it stuck in my mind. I always loved the idea of flying. It was hard for man to fly and therefor amazing. How much more amazing would flight be if you were a toad?

Could it be done? I considered the question. Why not really? Toads were light and they were sturdy. All it would need was a good pair of wings and something to get it started. Certainly it wouldn't be able to maintain flight, but to soar for a moment would be a great adventure for a lowly toad. My mind became enthralled with the idea. What a tale the toad would have to tell when it got home!

I discussed it with my companions. I explained all the advantages in detail and lit them with the fire of my enthusiasm. It was decided! A toad would fly! We immediately began the work. The design was simple. We took cardboard and made a small ring that would fit snugly around the body of the toad. To this we attached two struts to connect the bottom of the ring the the bottom of the wings. The top of the ring would also be attached directly to the wings.

Then we made the wings themselves. They were beautiful! They were probably six to eight inches across and two or three inches wide. We stylized them to look a bit like birds wings complete with small fetherettes along the back edge. We then colored them with flame-like decorations. If the toad was to fly he should fly in style!

Nana was watching us and finally asked what we were making. “We're making wings for toad so it can fly!” I said. Nana was very used to her grandchildren. “That's good.” was he simple reply. She sat there as we completed them. I can still see those wings in my imagination. They were wonderful. Grey cardboard, bright crayons and the dream of things to come!

Having completed the wings we only needed a volunteer to test them. As I said before, the yard was full of toads, it was just a matter of finding one. Within minutes we had a specimen that fit the wings perfectly. We could get them on, but it took a bit of effort and there was no chance of them just falling off. The toad looked amazing when he was fitted out. There he was, a simple toad, sporting a huge pair of beautifully crafted wings.

Our launch vehicle was a simple design. We laid a 2x4 over a log and put the toad on the low end. Chris jumped up and stomped on the high end. Lift off! The toad shot strait up and reached a height of maybe twenty feet. The wings caught the wind and he began to glide like a dream. I doubt the Wright brothers could have done better at our age! The toad flew maybe fifteen feet and settled as pretty as you please into the branches of a pine tree... Disaster!

Had the toad been able to speak and had he known his history I am sure at this point we would have heard a small “Houston, we have a problem...” However, our mute friend had no such way of expressing himself. He had to be content to silently hang suspended by his two large wings between two forked branches. Had he landed on the branch there would have been some small chance of his hopping down to safety, but such was not the case. He was stuck right in the middle. Two inches at least separated him from the nearest branch.

One thing was certain, we couldn't leave him like that. The problem was that he was still fifteen feet off the ground. We couldn't reach him with a stick no matter how hard we tried. Finally we had to resort to throwing sticks at him. It was imperative that we hit the branch and not the toad. I underlined this to Chris several times before he threw. He was the only one big enough to make a toss of sufficient height. The first throw was a clean miss. He didn't want to hit the toad whatever he did. After a few more he took careful aim. He made a good throw, but it was hair off.

He hit the left wing. In fact, he knocked it right off! The toad came out of the tree flying with just one wing. He was in a dead spin! Still, he had a small amount of lift. He looked like a pine seed falling down to earth, whirling as he fell. I have no doubt that this spinning decent saved his little life. He hit the ground and sat there unable to move. For a moment we were afraid he was dead. Then we observed that he was still breathing. It seemed that he might make it.

We decided to remove the wings and leave him alone for a few minutes. We walked around the yard talking of the stunning flight for perhaps fifteen minutes. When we came back to where we had left him the toad he was gone. He had hopped away having lived through an adventure such as few toads ever have. So you see, at least once, a toad did fly!

I hope you all got a laugh!

1 comment:

  1. Oh, yes, this made me laugh until I cried. I'm soooo glad the toad lived to "tell his friends" about his INCREDIBLE flight. I'm sure they didn't believe him.