In which this year's season of stories begins with a very large Frog
This story happens in the before-the-beginning days that the Aboriginal people of Australia call the Dreamtime. Things were still getting invented and changed and fixed in the Dreamtime. Stuff that was small then is big now, and things that were big then are small now.
It's a good place (and time) to start off a series of stories, I think. Enjoy!
Tiddalik the Frog (Australia)
Long ago in the Dreamtime there was an enormous frog known as Tiddalik.
Tiddalik awoke one morning with an overwhelming thirst.
At first, Tiddalik started drinking the water from a mud puddle. But he was still thirsty.
Next, Tiddalik drank all the water from a nearby creek. But he was still thirsty.
Then, Tiddalik drank all the water from the lake. But he was still thirsty.
Finally, Tiddalik drank all the water in all of the world. And then he was not thirsty any more.
But then there was no more water for everyone else. Soon, the animals and plants were sick and thirsty because there was no water.
The animals held a meeting to decide what to do. The oldest and wisest of the wombats told them that, if Tiddalik could be made to laugh, all the water would flow out of his mouth and back into the world.
The animals gathered by Tiddalik's resting place and tried for a long time to make him laugh, but it was in vain.
The kookaburra told his funniest story, but Tiddalik didn’t even smile.
The kangaroo jumped over the emu, and did tremendous leaps and spins in the air. Tiddalik smiled a little bit, but did not laugh.
The lizard waddled up and down on two legs making his stomach stick out, and all the animals laughed at him. Tiddalik’s mough curled up at the corners, and two drops of water came out. But that was all.
Finally, when the animals were in despair, Nabunum the eel began to dance. Nabunum wriggled and twisted himself into all sorts of knots and shapes, and finally, Tiddalik started to laugh.
His mouth opened wide in laughter, and as he laughed the water gushed out from his mouth and flowed away to replenish the puddles and creeks and lakes and all the water in all the world again.