I just met Dan this morning, in a most unusual manner. I can count on one finger the Southern Toads I have known who showed such galantry and determination in the face of incredible odds. He was the total toad, a real toad’s toad. A toad among toads, even.
I was driving in to work this morning, running about 60 mph down a divided highway (yes, the speed limit is 50, but it’s a 4 lane, straight divided highway. No one goes 50. Quitcher bitchin), enjoying the light Spring Break traffic when I noticed movement in my peripheral vision. I glanced out the drivers window only to see a little green head poking up over the edge of the door. What the…? I’m not used to seeing little green heads with big brown eyes looking in my car at me. Not since I quit the bar scene years ago, anyway.
It was Dan, the Daring Toad. He was car surfing on my door, straining for purchase on the slick surface against 60 mph winds. I could see the sheer determination in his beady eyes as he strained for a better grip. Where did he come from? One would think I would have noticed a toad on the car door when I got in it this morning. Maybe he hopped on at a stop sign or red light before I hit the highway. Who knows? Sometimes we don’t initially know the full story behind bravery. We only know that it was there, and we to witness it.
The wind tore relentlessly at Dan as he inched his way up the door (inched is a relative term. Dan was only a couple inches long himself, but “centimetered up”, while more accurate, just doesn’t have the same ring). I slowed down as much as I could, but didn’t want to risked being rear ended by the idiots driving along behind me without a toad drama unfolding before their eyes (Go Dan, you can do it!). Finally, he got a toe hold on the ledge. While still buffeted by the relentless wind, at least he had a firmer grip, something to hold on to. Mightily he struggled for a more tenable position. Occasionally the wind would pull three of his feet away from the vehicle and, hanging on with the remaining one, he did his best Superman impression. It wasn’t bad, really. A tiny cape and he would have been completely convincing (hang on, my little green brother!). To help as much as possible, I would slow the car down each time he went 3/4 airborn. I know the cars behind me though I was a lunatic, but they weren’t priviledged to see the battle rage.
At last Dan maneuvered himself fully onto the ledge and tucked in just behind the rearview mirror, mostly out of the wind. How he knew to head there is a mystery. Apparently, in addition to bravery, Dan counts brilliance among his attributes. He rested from his mighty struggle, and deservedly so. I sped up to join the flow of traffic, confident that Dan was safe but keeping a close eye on him just in case.
The divided highway gave way to surface streets, and Dan’s life got easier still. 45 mph maximum speed with frequent red lights. I was making plans to rehome him near the retention pond at work. The adrenaline was subsiding, certainly in me and probably in Dan as well. Only a few turns to go when suddenly Dan turned away from the window and started back down the door - No, Dan! We’re still going 40 mph, it’s too dangerous!
With that, Dan let go.
I have to think, given his brilliance, taht he looked around and thought “This is it, the Promised Land! I will stake my claim here, find a cute toad wife and raise my family. My offspring will have this place forever, and call my name as good for generations!”. I try to block out the fact that he landed in the road. If Frogger can get accross traffic, Dan the Daring Toad should have no problem. Shoot, he may have even flipped a semi in the process, just to show he could.
When I got to work I looked at the evidence of the battle captured in tracks through the pollen on the door. It appears that Dan had been in the front right wheel well to start the journey and had decided the window may be a better vantage point. It was a long crawl, but he made it. I hope it was worth it. Dan, where ever you are, I salute you.
The facts of this story are true. A toad may indeed have been harmed in the making of this story. I prefer to think not. And yes, I have pictures, but no way to link them.