The stickleback lizard staggers towards the water. Having lost his right hind leg, his body has tried to make up for the loss by sprouting two extra front legs. However, they are all but useless.
If only he can reach the water, he hopes to float, and ease the burden of his heavy trunk and the unwieldy stickles on his back.
In another life he was a proud fir tree on the shore. But high winds and heavy rains, coupled with extra high tides undercut his beachfront home. Each winter, he lost more of his grip on the land of his roots, until one day he was too weak to withstand the eroding waves and howling winds.
With a creak and a crash, he toppled onto the rocky beach, breaking a leg and bruising his skin.
He lay in his tidal grave for many years, watching his lovely needle coat wash out to sea, twig by twig, until at last, he gave up being a tree.
One dark night, a shiver of change trickled through him. The bark turned scaly, and the trunk became a lizard’s body. The limbs twisted into lizard legs. The skinnier upper limbs proudly proclaimed his trademark stickles.
“Ahhhhh … yesssssss!!!” he hissed. “Now if I can only crawl into the sea, I’ll have a good long drink of salty water. Then I’ll relax and float on my back for a while, using the stickles to help steer me. Once I get my sea legs, I’ll go look up my freshwater cousins Nessie and Ogo Pogo.”