WHY DID THE FROG
CROSS THE ROAD?
7 November 2002
We live in a weird town. This is a town which got on the map because the police were
called out to give a noise violation citation to a woman who was snoring. In her own home.
In her own bed.
This is a town whose mayor once tried to get potholes declared "historic."
(Now I realize that there are some potholes all over California that have been around for
a long time--but to make them officially "historic"??
We are a nuclear-free zone (so dontcha go dropping your bombs on us, you hear?)
and the mayor gives speeches at Gay Pride Day (but the Boy Scouts still discriminate).
And we have a special place in our hearts for frogs.
Well, some people do.
Some time ago, this town was building a brand new overcrossing. (It was such an event
that its dedication brought out the band, dignitaries, and toasts all held on the crest of
the new road).
The problem with the overcrossing was the toads. The animal lovers in town worried about
the toads, which used to hop from one side of the dirt lot which the overcrossing was
replacing, to the reservoir on the other side during their spring migration, now faced
being squished by cars blythly driving from South Davis to North Davis.
It was Watership Down, with warts.
There was a lot of controversy about the toads, and a lot of hyperbole going on at city
council meetings ('cause they had already solved the problem of nuclear bombs and potholes
and there wasn't anything else of import to discuss).
The ultimate solution was to build The Toad Tunnel.
This $20,000 tunnel starts at the post office parking lot and goes under the new
overpass to the other side of the road.
In anticipation of a community of toads living happily on one side of the road and then
taking the tunnel to work on the other side of the road, the father of the then-postmaster
built a little "toad town" by the entrance to the toad tunnel. It's nicely
landscape and has lovely little toad-sized buildings. I have to admit that I've never seen
an actual toad there, but I'm sure that those who have found it are very appreciative.
There was all sorts of fanfare about how wonderful this would be for the toads. But
I've always wondered.
How do the toads know that if they enter this very long very black, presumably very hot
and dry tunnel, that there is a light at the end of it? Is there some little winged
guardian angel toad who comes and guides them into the light and unto the water that is
bathed by the light of day? How do they know that there is Paradise at the end of the
tunnel? How do they know that they should take a detour through Toad Hollow and into the
tunnel rather than hopping across the road like they always did?
It's all very silly (not to say expensive) and very cute. In fact, the postmaster's
father even wrote a children's
book about it.
However, cynical person that I am, I prefer the rumor I've heard that there are toads
who actually enter the tunnel, but it's so long, they die in the middle and the tunnel is
getting clogged with toad corpses.
Maybe they can build a toad cemetery on the other side of the road.