Tuesday, July 20

Patient the Snail Sees Australia

Did you know there was a place far away down under called Australia? There is and it has magical animals that aren’t found anywhere else, but there are also beautiful snails, including a snail named Patient. A snail with a beautiful pink shell to be exact!

One day Patient when for a bit of a stroll. A very, very slow stroll, but a stroll just the same, and along the way, she met a platypus lazing along in a billabong near the head of a river. The platypus was very happy just to be swimming along looking for bugs and grubs to eat to get stronger and stronger to feed her baby platypus. She had laid an egg that was inside her pouch for a platypus has a secret! A platypus is a monotreme. “A what?” said Patient. “ A monotreme. A mammal that lays eggs. There are only two of us in the whole world and I’m one of them. My baby is no bigger than you and can’t move any faster than you do!” Patient was amazed at this new information in this new world she was discovering.

As Patient moved along the path she saw two very, very strange looking creatures ambling along slowly. They looked a bit like porcupines, but they had big webbed feet with claws for digging, very long noses, and even longer tongues. They were a pair of echidnas and she spoke to them softly, “Hello”, she said, “my name is Patient.” The two very shy echidnas were startled and they began to burrow quickly to make a safe hole in the ground where they could turn themselves into prickly balls and protect their soft undersides.

“I’m sorry,” said Patient, “I didn’t mean to startle you. I’m a bit shy myself and I’ve never been to this magical land called Australia. I just met the most unusual duck called a Platypus and she told me about herself.” The echidnas giggled a bit at hearing the platypus called a duck, but they understood. “Well," said one of the echidnas, "we’ll tell you something about ourselves that, believe it or not, is the same as a platypus.”

“You don’t look anything like them,” exclaimed Patient. “Well we don’t look alike and we don’t like water, but we are the only other monotreme in the whole world. We are mammals that lay eggs and when our babies hatch they are called PUGGLES!!! Our puggles are only as big as a jelly bean, but when they get a bit bigger and they get spikes too we have to send them on their way to find their own ants and termites.” Patient was absolutely fascinated by the spiny echidnas, but it was time to move further down the path.

Patient waved good-bye to the echidnas and thanked them for being her friends, then as she moved along the path she saw sitting on a branch three very, very noisy kookaburras. Oh how they laughed and laughed. Patient thought they were laughing at her, and at first she was very sad, but she found that they were just a couple of very, very silly birds and that they simply loved to laugh at anything. Patient gave in and began to laugh quietly to herself as she went slowly down the path.

Patient could still hear the kookaburras’ loud laughter when she came upon a family of four furry wombats! “Oh my!” she cried softly! "What are these wonderful creatures? They look a bit like teddy bears.” She watched them all sleeping on their backs with their legs straight up in the air! They looked as if they were so content she decided not to disturb them, but she did get close enough to see a baby wombat rub his eyes and look around long enough to spot his momma then doze back off into a sweet slumber.

Patient was getting a bit tired, but she was so excited to learn about all of the new animals she had discovered in Australia that when she heard the crackle of leaves above her in a eucalyptus tree she looked straight up to find a bear! “Are you a bear?” she called as loudly as her little voice would carry. “Nope!” not a bear replied a sleepy koala. “I’m a koala and I’m a marsupial, just like the wombat you just passed by. I can see that wombat family from up in my tree and they haven’t moved a bit. Of course I’m not one to talk since I rarely do much moving either. I prefer to spend the day in my tree sleeping almost all day long. I have such long, long claws that I can hang onto a branch easily and when I do wake up I eat for a couple of hours and go back to sleep.” Would you like to try one of my gum leaves?” Patient was a little more than hungry so she accepted the invitation as the leaf floated to the ground directly in front of her. She nibbled just a bit at a corner and spat out the chewed up leaf. The koala giggled a bit under her breath, “Oops! Sorry, I forgot to warn you that most other creatures find our leaves pretty bitter. It was nice making your acquaintance though,” the koala said with a yawn.

So many creatures that moved almost as slowly as she did in this incredible country of wonder!

But then, the most amazing animals of them all went bounding so quickly by Patient she could hardly tell what had happened! They were tall and red and some were grey and they had the biggest feet! Their legs were so strong they could move like lightning and their tails were almost as big as their legs and helped them keep their balance when suddenly they stopped and began grazing in the grasses. And then the most amazing thing of all happened! Smaller versions of these creatures poked their heads out of a pocket in the front of their mothers and found their way to the earth to begin hopping around a bit on their own looking for food. Patient caught the attention of one of the smaller animals and called out, “Hey! Don’t step on me! My name is Patient and I want to know more about you!” The small kangaroo turned around quickly and put her nose close to Patient and said, “Haven’t you ever seen a Joey before? I’m a Joey, but my mom and dad are just called kangaroos. We love to jump around and play fight and lay about in the sun. The best part is I get to ride in my mother’s pouch on long trips and it’s like flying through the air! Soon I’ll be old enough to stay up with the group and my baby brother will take my place in the pouch!”

Patient had never heard of anything so astonishing in all her life. It was one thing to carry her house on her back, but to ride inside a pouch as her mother virtually flew over the land was something all together different and astounding.

And so after a long day Patient found a place near a cool rock and she laid down for a good snooze and dreamt of the new friends she’d met and tried to think how she would ever explain them all to her friends when she got back home to her little corner of Seattle, Washington.

story by Annie Kosten

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Abby is going to love learning about all these new animals. I didn't know half this stuff...

    It's so cool to wait every day for a new Patient story and see how many creative, amazing, loving people love Abby. Thanks Annie!