It was a cool summer evening just after the rain
A toad was out walking – she calls herself Jane.
Hopping and jumping and humming a tune
In her head she was thinking “now, where is the moon”?
The clouds had rolled in, they had covered the stars,
She couldn’t see Jupiter. Or Venus. Or Mars.
It was too dark to see, she may have been lost
To the pond she must get, whatever the cost.
As she stumbled along, her mind full of beaus
She leapt startled, something cold brushed her toes!
“Oh my! What was that?” and thinking the worst
She turned and she stared, her heart fit to burst.
“I’m too young to die! Oh please leave me be”
But as her eyes focused in the dark she could see
Two eyes stuck on stalks were staring right back.
T’was a small slimy snail – he calls himself Jack.
“Oh Jack I was startled! I got such a fright!
You shouldn’t sneak up on such a dark night!”
Jack’s feelings were hurt and he started to cry
“I’m just a small snail. I wouldn’t hurt a fly”.
Now Jane’s not a bully. She can be quite kind
She patted Jack’s back and said “never mind.
But I’ve a party to go to and I can’t be late
I don’t want to miss my important date”.
“It’s Saturday night, all the toads will be there.
That minx they call Sally, no she wouldn’t care
About stealing my Tom if I didn’t arrive
I’m already quite late – it started at five!”
And Jack, he said nothing, no not even one sound
He just slithered aside so Jane could jump round.
He never says much, he has not much to say
In a quietly, gentlemanly, snaily way.
Jane skipped around, she went off with a dash
“Later Jack!” she shouted. He thought her quite brash.
I think that she made it – she met up with Tom
‘Cause there by the pond I hear a toad love song.
The Name’s the Thing
“Have you ever named an inanimate object? (Your car? Your laptop? The volleyball that kept you company while you were stranded in the ocean?) Share the story of at least one object with which you’re on a first-name basis.”
My children’s father is an engineer. He is also a dreamer, often disappearing into his own thoughts for hours, switching off from the real World while he designs rotary engines, or the perfect irrigation pump, or imagines himself in arguments with a client over unpaid bills. I would chat away to him, often about inanities – the characters in a book I was reading, the dream I had last night – but sometimes about important stuff like school fees and where we were going for our next holiday. After a while I would notice I was getting no response, not even an occasional grunt. I would look over at him, notice the glazed look in his eyes and realise I had been talking to myself. Again. He does this all the time, to everyone, so I shouldn’t have taken it personally – but I often did.
A few years ago when my youngest son was about 10 years old he and his Dad went on a road trip through Mocambique. It was a very long journey and after about the fifth hour of one-sided conversation Last Born came up with an ingenious plan. He dug around in the suitcases and found a pair of socks. He named the socks ‘Dad’, propped them up on the dashboard and continued talking, happy he now had someone’s undivided attention.