Ben Goetter's unnecessarily apocalyptic weblog.

Thu, 26 Jul 2007

der Schilderwald

Two days ago, an article on the front page of the Wall Street Journal captivated me with an arresting image:

A sign reading 'Kroeten-Wanderung!'

My highways' signs warn against the road hazards of deer and cattle, but neglect the plight of the local toads and rattlesnakes, both of which lie too low to the ground to cause serious vehicle damage when striking them. The Germans, however, apparently cherish their toads, and for that I salute them.

Too, Krötenwanderung is a perfectly marvelous word. It brings to my mind what Chaucer might have written:

Whan that Aprille, with hise shoures soote,
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote
Thanne longen todes to goon on pilgrimages
at the opening of his A Tode's Book of the Tales of Caunterbury. (But no! Instead he slandered the lowly yet noble toad, in the hectoring voice of his Parson's "myrie tale in prose": Afterward speke we of scornynge, which is a wikked synne, and namely whan he scorneth a man for his goode werkes. For certes, swiche scorneres faren lyk the foule tode, that may nat endure to smelle the soote savour of the vyne whanne it florissheth. Boo, Chaucer!)

In the wintertime, a ski trail passes through a corner of my property, just behind my shop. Clearly, any skiers traversing my back yard must be warned against the perils of midwinter toad pilgrimages, lest warts foul their wax. However, the best sign I've found for sale lacks the charm of the model featured in the WSJ article. There is just something so charming about those orderly Teutonic toads proceeding in single file (im Gänsemarsch, sozusagen, od. Krötenmarsch? which would be nothing at all like a frog-march), and the verrie rustick hyphen, and the exclamation point! denoting the excitement of toadular promenades.

There's probably a special place in Hell being kept warm for tourists who steal essential public safety signs such as this. I must keep that in mind as I pursue the right sign.

posted at: 10:22 | path: | permanent link to this entry

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