Tarts and Tadpoles

“Tarts and tadpoles!…The boy is still alive!”

—-L. Frank Baum, Rinkitink in Oz

Tadpole Pool, Dallas Arboretum

There are few things as fascinating as tadpoles in a jar.

The tail slowly shrinks as the legs – back first, then front – appear and grow.

Does the tadpole understand what is going on? It must be frightening… to wake up in the morning (do tadpoles sleep? do they dream wet tadpole dreams?) only to find fresh, unknown appendages growing out of their body. They have a wonderful fish-like life – their precious gills – until they turn into lungs. Do they understand how they are following the evolution of their ancestors?

Of course they don’t.

Do they imagine what might come next? Do they dream of growing wings? A tadpole, like everyone, must dream of flight. What a blow it must be when they realize that they are stuck with their legs, no matter how muscular and sinewy they feel and how high and graceful their leap.