Animal Dilemmas – Donkey Frog
The Frog turn around and with a chain of small leaps rejoined the forest floor. The vegetation was so thick that in the tunnels under the grasses and bushes was pitch black. No moon or starlight reached there. And yet life thrived. Water was abundant and in it plants grew, insects multiplied and amphibians hunted.
The Frog knew the rules of this unfriendly to outsiders place. It knew them well but it also knew that in order to live the rest of its life with grace it had to leave it. It had to travel a length no frog has traveled before. Most frogs never left their pond but the Frog finally realized after its encounter with the Owl, that it had to learn in order to teach.
Since it had already bean to the close edge of the woods it decided to head for the far lands across the entire forest. It walked and leaped believing that it was guided by a greater force than its selfish needs. The Frog could hear the voice of the forest speaking directly in its ear. Mosquitos landed in its mouth, snakes and lizard avoided its path. The Frog was on a clear path to enlightenment.
It took it a month to cross the forest at length. During that month the Frog met many animals some good, some bad; some scared, some scary and learned, suffered and sacrificed all it could. It attempted to talk to every beast it met, some spoke similar languages, some inexplicably different. At times it didn’t meet anyone for days on end. It learned to speak with some spices and avoid others.
One thing was certain it was not the same old Frog when it came out on the far side of the forest. It was old sure, but its mind was free and flying.
At the last tree of the forest the Frog stumbled on a solitary boot. The type that giants put on their feet to walk because their feet are too soft. It was an old boot leaning on its side. The Frog ventured inside to find it soothingly dark and dry. It tuned back and stood on the mouth of the boot gazing at the world outside. The insect traffic was significant so the Frog didn’t have to move in order to feed.
The first animal to pass by was a rabbit. ‘Let all foxes stay out of your path,’ the Frog said in every language it had learned on its journey. The rabbit has been around the forest so it knew a few words of other animal languages so it managed to understand, it smiled and it went on its way.
The second animal that passed by the boot was a wild goose. Let your flock has a safe passage south when the winter comes, said the Frog in all languages once again. The goose mumbled something but the Frog could not understand it. Instead it smiled and said, ‘Peace.’ The goose smiled and went on its way.
The next animal was a wolf. ‘Let the giant hunters stir away from your way,’ said the Frog. The wolf grunted and recalled that was the nicest thing any animal had ever said to it. It lowered its nose into the boot in manifestation of respect but that only scared the Frog which retreated into the toe section of the boot. The wolf grunted and went on its way.
Similarly every animal that passed by the Frog’s boot received the same kind treatment. Soon the word spread that there was a Frog savant living on the far edge of the woods. Animals in the entire forest grew curious and wondered by the boot as if by accident just to be blessed by the Frog.
Soon all animals in the forest were talking about the Frog. Some traveled for days and brought it food, herbs, flowers, totems and tokens of gratitude for its wisdom. Single animals that have been lost, settled around the boot and sat all day listening to the Frog.
Even beasts who learned about the gathering and would normally hunt animals like at water holes, sat down and listen to Frog. The news traveled beyond the forest and reached domestic animals. The only once that were ignorant of the sage were the giants, they had their preachers own and brandy.
The good word reached an only Donkey. The Donkey was getting too old and brittle and was to no use of the giants for carried loads of goods. So they just let it graze in the fields and payed no heed to its well being. The Donkey heard about the sage from a traveling raccoon. Since it was not tied it followed the general direction of the boot destination and hoped to ask for help on the way.
The Donkey ate grass on the way when it was hungry and stopped at watering holes when it was thirsty. The closer it got the boot the more animals knew about it and gave kind directions. The Donkey met other pilgrims – a lost sheep, a pair of run away goats and a rooster, all coming from different farms.
They traveled together and when they reached the vicinity of the Frog’s boot, they were stunned by how many animals were clustered around it. They had to wait for two days in order to get to the sage. The Donkey was the largest animal there and once its turn came everyone went quiet. The Donkey leaned forward and down and said. ‘I am old and useless now but that doesn’t matter. What will happen to me when I die?’
The Frog stood still as usual, opened its eyes and said. ‘When you die your body will turn to ash. The earth needs that ash to nurture new life. The ash will be food for a big strong tree. The tree will grow tall and beautiful and will host many birds’ nests. It will be a home for many live beings. And travelers will rest under its thick shadow.’
next chapter: ANIMAL DILEMMAS – GOATS DONKEY
previous chapter: ANIMAL DILEMMAS – FROG OWL
all chapters: Animal Dilemmas
photograph by Michael Fertig