Wisdom from above ( Amphibians in transit)

I recommend riding on the top of a bus. (Not actually on top of a bus – bit draughty and precarious riding there! – but I mean, upstairs on a bus that has a top deck. A double-decker…)

Hey, I wish there were triple-deckers, then I could ride a floor higher still!

I like being up high. The spacious attic upstairs was a major reason I bought my flat. From the attic, if I stick my head out of the skylight, I can examine the slates of my own roof; see the chimneys, near and far, used and unused; and can see across limiting walls to gardens beyond. From a higher viewpoint, you notice more…

For example, if it wasn’t for riding on the upper deck of buses, I would never have known about the ponds on top of bus shelters.

Really, there are! Well, not on all of them, maybe; not for example on those newer bus stances at Kirkcaldy Bus Station, the ones with curved-over see-through roofs that are like the clear-walled underwater tunnel at Deep Sea World. Any water would flow right off of those.

No… The older-style, flat-topped bus shelters. There are little shallow ponds up there.

But you have to be looking at just the right time, or you don’t see them.

They come and go, with the weather.

And there, dare I say it, live some frogs. Specially adapted frogs, designed to suit their bus-shelter-top lifestyle.

They have sucker-pad toes, and are nimble leapers. They can leap onto the side of the buses that draw up, cling there, and by use of the public transport network, migrate from bus-shelter-top to bus-shelter-top, in search of a mate or fresh ponds to colonise.

They also have the gift of chamaeleon-like camouflage. They can change colour to match the bus they’re clinging to.

That is why so few people notice them.

But if you look closely, perhaps at a bus which has had one of those big visual adverts applied to its side as a transfer, you may see a little bump… a place where the surface is not as smooth and flat as usual, but where the pictorial design nonetheless continues uninterrupted.

Congratulations! That bump is a frog, clinging there and disguising itself to match the image and so pass unnoticed. They are quite small. Savour the moment! You have been privileged to perceive what few see and fewer still understand.

I suggest you do not disturb it, or point it out; just enjoy that moment of comradeship. The frog has its life, you have your own… both going about your business, each thereafter enriched by the encounter… you, favoured by being granted a rare glimpse into a separate but connected realm; the frog, blessed by your respect and discretion. You are protecting this hidden wildlife by letting it pass unannounced.

But your conscious, so-rational mind may doubt… since – ah, alas! – it has been drummed into us so much, ‘seeing is believing’…
‘How can I believe in something I can’t see with my own eyes?’ some people say.

You may instead jump to a ‘more reasonable’ conclusion…
like a frog leaping only from lily-pad to lily-pad (as if reluctant to get wet, unwilling to enter the hidden richer realm beneath the water – though once there, it would find itself to be in its natural element!)
…You may leap, that is, to this conclusion: that there is a material, inorganic, technological explanation of that bump on the surface of the bus:

“Rivet!” you may say…

Ah, but is not that very exclamation a signal from your subconscious? Your hidden, deeper self, which somehow knows and agrees with the truth of my revelation… your subtle, wise and inwardly-childlike psyche, playfully emulating the very sound of the creature I describe… a greeting given in its own language, gladly celebrating its presence there? Perhaps (if no-one was about) the frog would even reply to you:

“Rivet! Rivet!”

© 2016 armadillozenith / Graham Peter King

Wisdom from above ( Amphibians in transit)


Dunfermline, United Kingdom

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Artist's Description

Lightly musing on mind, outlook and perceptions. See what may be unnoticed around us, and recognise we jointly belong!

Video of 2016 live performance of this piece.

Artwork Comments

  • ingrid butler
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