SNAG, the beaver, was very tired. All day, every day, he was busy, busy--looking for enough water to fill all the buckets in POSEY's Chariot--to give water to the White Cloud Birds! They were little buckets, and were not big enough to supply all the Birds—so some of them went home to their nests and they were still thirsty. It was just not enough! He knew it, and he thought about it every day. They needed ‘BIG WATER’, but there was none. SNAG walked as far as he could every day, using every trick he knew, to find ‘BIG WATER’! He would not let himself believe that it was hopeless--he would not give up!
SNAG pulled some leaves together to form a nest, where he could finally roll over, and go to sleep. He closed his eyes, put his head down on the leaves, and he bumped something hard! Oh, “ouch” he thought! It was getting pretty dark, but he had enough light to see that he had banged his head on three, juicy, fresh, red apples. But, he was just too tired to think about anything. He pushed the apples out of the way, collapsed on the leaves, and immediately fell asleep.
Early the next morning, SNAG woke up and saw the shining apples right by his head. He had a sudden thought. ‘How did these three, fat, juicy apples get to such a dry place at the bottom of this dry hill?’
He looked up, in the early morning light, and there was the answer to his question. At the top of the hill, he saw a very healthy-looking, big, apple tree. Its great branches were covered over with long, green leaves, and fat apples hung everywhere. There were some large, grey rocks pressed against the base of the tree, and several green, clumps of grass--but everything else was brown, and looked very, very dry.
SNAG climbed up to make sure that what he was seeing was real. Yes, it was! He went over and sat on one of the strong, tree roots and looked up into the branches. He picked a fresh apple and began eating it. It tasted so good, and the juice was running down his chin. The Juice? The Juice? The Juice was mostly water!! This was impossible! Here was one tree, on top of a dry hill, in the middle of a dry field--but it must be living on water somehow. There was no pond, no stream, no river-- no water of any kind to be seen!
SNAG became very excited! He ran down the hill, across the field, and back into the forest, to find his friend, POSEY, the Circus pony. He had seen JAZZ riding on POSEY's back. It looked dangerous. He was afraid to try it, but it would be the fastest way to get back to Our Pond where he could tell all the Our Pond Friends, of this great, impossible discovery!
He found POSEY, who was quietly chewing on some grass. He did not stop. He did not know exactly what he was doing. He did not say anything. He just made a big jump to getup on her back, as he had seen JAZZ do many times. POSEY stepped a bit sideways. SNAG ended up, face down, on the ground on the other side.
POSEY stopped chewing on the grass, smiled, and said,
“Greetings, how can I be of help?”
SNAG got to his feet, dusted himself off, and said, with a big smile, “I am sorry, that was not very polite.”
“I just discovered something impossible that must have an answer-- that may be important to all of us, including the White Bird Cloud. I need to tell all the Our Pond Friends about it as soon as possible. Maybe one of them can tell us what is going on. We still have thirsty Birds, and we need to find an answer to that problem as soon as we can.”
POSEY stopped her chewing, lowered her head a bit, and said, “Jump up, clamp your legs around my neck, and grab the hair just behind my ears. You will be holding on to what they call my “ mane”, and if you do not let go, you will be safe--no matter how fast I am galloping. For you, old friend, I will make it very, very fast!”
For the Friends of Our Pond, it was always very exciting when they heard the extremely fast galloping of POSEY, as she came down the path to Our Pond. This one time they did not even have to know there was going to be a call for aGeneralMeeting. The galloping sound was so fast, and so hard, and SNAG was swinging along, holding on to POSEY's mane-- which he had never done before! Everyone knew this was important! NOZZLE, the leader, was already calling for quiet and order, as POSEY braced herself, slammed her flying feet down, and came to a dusty, quick halt.
SNAG flew off, still holding onto a little bit of POSEY’s mane, in his right paw, and started to tell the very important story of The Three Apples Mystery.
The Friends of Our Pond were eagerly waiting for SNAG to tell them why he had POSEY racing around at top speed. What had happened? What was new?
They all went very quiet as SNAG started to speak, in an excited voice, “You all know that everything I have been doing, for a very long time, is trying to find water for our new, thirsty Friends in the White Cloud. Every day we have filled the small buckets we carry in POSEY's Chariot with all the water we can find and have given it to some of the most thirsty birds--but it was never enough. We take the water from small streams, and little ponds, but it was never enough! We need a river, or a lake--but the ones that we know of are too far away.”
“Yesterday, I was very tired and I was looking for a place to sleep. I found a pile of leaves on a dry, little hill, in the middle of the dry field, just over by the Our Pond forest. When I lay down, I hit my head on three, fresh, juicy apples. The next morning, I was wondering where those apples had come from and I found a big, healthy-looking Apple Tree on the very top of the little, dry hill. I ate one of the apples. It was ripe and juicy--the Juice actually dribbled off my chin!”
“I looked at the tree with care, and counted about fifty, ripe, red apples. How could this be? One tree, all by itself, in the middle of all the dry, brown land--with no green grass, no other living, growing thing around. This tree is BIG. I sat on its roots. It is massive and must have been growing there for a long time. Where was it getting its water? I do not have the answer. The only possible place I could go was to come to you, my dear friends, and see if we can figure it out together.”
BUBBLEBATH, the artistic fish, was in the big bucket on POSEY’s Chariot. This is where he always sat to attend the Our Pond meetings. He shot out a stream of red bubbles to get attention, pushed his big head up, and asked, “ When you were sitting on the roots, did you notice if there was a puddle, or the sound of rushing water?”
“No, maybe I was too excited, but I do not remember anything like that,” SNAG replied.
SALLY, the little, green snake, said, “Did you s-s-see any open holes in the tree, or wet s-s-spots?”
SNAG answered, “No, I did not see anything wet at all--except the juicy apple I was eating.”
NOZZLE looked around for the huge bird that The Friends of Our Pond called SHARD. Oh, there he was, high in the top branches of the big pine tree. NOZZLE called to him. SHARD dropped down like a stone, opened his wide wings, and stopped, almost in mid-air, before drifting over to his favorite, fat, log resting place, and asked if he was needed?
“Yes,” replied NOZZLE, “I was just thinking--if the water for this tree was coming from some faraway place, who might best know of having seen that place. Who among The Friends of Our Pond saw more in a day than anyone else would see in their entire life? My dear SHARD, the answer is you!”
SHARD stretched his long neck out as high as possible, pointed his beak straight up, and closed his huge eyes. He hummed for a moment, and asked, “SNAG, were there a lot of rocks around the roots of that tree?”
SNAG was surprised by the question. He jumped up, and said, “Oh, yes, oh, yes, there were! How did you know? I mean, I did not think the rocks were important. I was looking at all that apple juice and thinking about thirsty birds, and things.”
“Now, I am sure I have the answer!” said SHARD, snapping his giant beak. He lifted his long, right leg, and pointed his toe toward a nearby range of tall mountains. “You cannot see it from here, but in the lowlands, amongst those mountains, there is a small peak covered in snow! It is much higher than we are, and is hidden by the other mountains. Remember what I have said--it is higher than we are.”
“I have flown over that mountain, on restful flights, many times, and I have seen that the snowcap changes. Part of the year the Snow Mountain is completely covered with snow! Summer comes. It must get warmer there, and the snow starts to melt-- making water. Then the snowcap gets much smaller. Winter comes. It gets colder, and gradually more snow falls, and the little mountain is completely snow-covered again. So, the snow is coming, and going away, as water. All that snow is turning into water every year--and that water must head downhill!”
SHARD gave a big laugh, and said, “That little snow-covered mountain must be feeding water to several underground rivers. It is higher than we are and, of course, the water must be flowing downhill with enough water pressure to reach SNAG's Apple Tree. We are sure of this because SNAG found three, beautiful, fresh apples, full of juice. Juice has a lot of water in it-
-and so do leaves, and roots. The Apple Tree is getting enough water each year to keep it healthy!”
SHARD raised his huge wings, to get everyone's attention. Then he said in a loud, deep voice, “I am sure that this little snow-capped mountain is where the water you need will be coming from, but The Friends of Our Pond are not strong enough to bring it here to form a lake. The Snow Mountain is so far away. Just imagine all the digging that would be needed! Right now, we do not even know exactly where the river is.”
That was all SHARD had to say, so he flapped his wings twice, and glided up to his usual place, on the top of the friendly, old Pine Tree.
JAZZ, the retired Circus monkey, could never sit still. He usually knew what was going on around Our Pond, and he tried to be there to help NOZZLE with whatever was needed.
There was something else very special about JAZZ. Suppose POSEY needed to be hooked up to her Chariot. They called JAZZ. Or, someone needed a rope woven out of reeds--JAZZ could do it. He was the only one who could because he had clever little fingers, and had learned how to use them. He was very creative and was always interested in doing something new.
One day JAZZ happened to find HIDE, the smaller of the two kangaroo children, drawing a picture of the COMMANDER with a hard pebble on a piece of slate. HIDE had become very important to the Word Teaching Program. She was often working with the cleverest of the White Cloud Birds, who had taken the “mint cure” and were now normal and friendly. As JAZZ was watching, one of the Advanced Birds picked up a pebble in its beak and tried to draw something on the slate. The pebble fell out. JAZZ picked up a longer pebble and showed the White Bird how to best hold it in its beak. Some other Advanced White Birds came over to learn how to do it, and before long there were ten birds drawing on slate for the first time--all by using their beaks. JAZZ was so pleased to see the birds’ interest. He also had an important question on his mind. Could he teach these Birds to weave? He had seen that they often stood around balanced on only one foot while they ate something. This left the other foot free to help weave. Also, they were very quick with the movement of their beaks--their heads would go back and forth quicker than fingers, and made a “buzz, buzz” sound.
JAZZ dashed off to find some thin reeds and small leaves. He wanted to find out if he could teach the Birds to weave ropes. He wondered if they could learn to tie rocks together with woven reeds? By the time JAZZ got back, he had all these wonderful ideas going through his mind. When he saw that there were about twenty Birds standing there waiting to learn what he could teach them, he knew this was going to be a very important part of the cooperation between the Birds and the Friends of Our Pond. Working together is very powerful!
As more and more White Birds drank from their little umbrellas with the mint in it, they had become Wise and Friendly. An ever-greater number of them taught each other things to do with their beaks and feet. They did it even when JAZZ was not there.
HIDE, BOING’s youngest kangaroo child, became part of the fun. She even told her friend, the COMMANDER of the White Birds, all about the new, wonderful things that the Wise White Cloud Birds were learning. He was so pleased, and wondered how the White Cloud Birds could ever repay the Friends of Our Pond for their constant help.
SNAG was not going to give up! Maybe the water coming to the big Apple Tree was not going to turn out to be ‘BIG WATER’ from the white-capped mountain, but there was some water getting to the roots of the Apple Tree that produced those juicy apples, and that would help a lot of thirsty birds. Maybe some of that could be used to fill the little buckets in the Chariot. In any case, SNAG asked his friend SALLY, the little, green snake, if she could help investigate around the roots of the Apple Tree. He was sure SALLY was the perfect Friend to do this investigation. She could slide herself around the Apple Tree roots and even swim in deep water if she found it. In the water . . . in the air . . . it was mostly the same to her!
It took awhile to get to the Apple Tree. Part of the time SNAG carried SALLY, and part of the time she just wriggled along in the dust. When they finally got to the tree, they took time out to rest, and share one of the juicy apples that was hanging on the branch.
SNAG had remembered to bring a long, reed rope. He tied one end of it around SALLY, and left the other end to uncoil on a branch as she went down deeper through the tree roots. If she ran into trouble at any time, he could, of course, pull her back up to safety. In some places the roots were pretty fat, and there were a lot of them, but there was always space enough for slim SALLY to squeeze through. She had good, sensitive eyes, too, and could see a great deal even in the dark.
SNAG was surprised to see how quickly SALLY slithered down between the big roots, with the thin reed safety rope following her all the way. In about fifteen minutes, he felt the three, little tugs on the rope that was her signal that she was ready to come up.
He could feel she was cold and wet when he helped her out onto the rocks, between the roots. She did not look tired or frightened, though, and was immediately able to tell him what she had found.
SALLY thought for a minute, and said, “The fat roots were all wet. As I wriggled down, the roots quickly became thinner and thinner. S-s-suddenly, there were no more roots at all, and I was on the side of a rough, stone tube that went straight down. The frightening thing was that the tube was shaking all the time, and there was a humming sound from much deeper down. It was not the type of shaking and humming that was big and violent. It just let me know that there was some sort of movement way, way down there, somewhere. There were lumps of rock sticking out on the side of the tube. I was able to break one off. It fell for a while, and then it s-s-splashed into the dark water--maybe twice as far down as I had gone.”
SNAG smiled happily, and wiped SALLY off with some of the dry leaves from the tree. She coiled herself around his strong neck and fell asleep as he carried her back to Our Pond, still tied onto the reed rope.
Way up in the sky above, SHARD had been circling around and around watching the entire investigation.
He was proud of them both and knew he could be of great help to them as they tried to solve the problem of ‘BIG WATER’. Even though he was a powerful bird, he knew in his heart that he could not have been much help to them if things had gone wrong below the roots of the Apple Tree.
SNAG, and SALLY, found NOZZLE drifting in Our Pond thinking about things. They told him they had something important to say. JAZZ was asked to set up a general Our Pond Meeting for the next morning. Of course, everybody came. SHARD asked NOZZLE if he could make some comments before SNAG and SALLY made their report. Permission was given, and SHARD glided down from the top of the pine tree and stood on his favorite, fat, log to talk to everybody.
“I just want you all to know that we should be very proud of SNAG and SALLY for the dangerous work they did yesterday. It was a good idea carried out to perfection! Our two Our Pond Friends did a very good job. They are heroes. I am eager to hear what they found.”
NOZZLE stood up and asked CLUMP, the toad, to memorize everything that was said in the meeting. CLUMP's large chest swelled with pride as he said, “Yes, sir!”
SNAG, and SALLY, spoke, one after the other, as they described the details of their adventure. They were calm and were trying to be very accurate. When they had finished, The Friends of Our Pond all clapped eagerly to show their appreciation.
KATE, the enormous catfish, splashed her big tail, and asked SHARD, the giant bird, who had spoken the day before, to explain what he understood from the new information.
SHARD raised his beak, and spoke, “ We know a lot more today than we did yesterday. I never thought it could happen, but these brave Friends have found one of the underground rivers that come from that distant snow-capped mountain!”
No one could say anything. Was this a possible answer to the ‘BIG WATER’ problem, and water for all the Birds? They just looked at each other, and waited for more information.
SHARD continued, “The Apple Tree is just above that river. When there is a lot of snow, the water from the river comes up high enough to reach the tree roots, and the tree is healthy and happy and makes apples. When there is not much snow, the water does not come all the way up to reach the roots. This does not happen for long or we would see that the tree would have no leaves, and could not make good apples. We know it happens because it is happening right now, or the stone tube would be full of water.”
“The most important thing our Friends have found is a strong river that produces ‘BIG WATER’. Now, we know where we would have to go to get the water we want for the White Cloud Birds. But a huge amount of very heavy work is still required, and we are not nearly big enough to do it!"
NOZZLE was at home, on his pile of logs, trying to get to sleep but he could not. Here they were. They had found the source of the water they needed, but they were not big enough or strong enough to go and get it. They would have to dig a long, long way to get to it, and then dig a huge basin, with high sides, where they could keep the water to form a lake. Most of the members of Our Pond were just too small to be of much help in digging. Other Friends, that only lived in water, could not even do digging.
The next morning NOZZLE was still sitting there wondering what to do, when he heard Boing, Boing, Boing. He knew that the mother kangaroo, called BOING (because of the noise she made when she jumped), was coming down the path to see him for some reason. When she got closer, she made a big, big Boing, and landed on the sandy road, just beside him. Her two children were riding in her pouch. They both jumped down and went to practice the Words they were teaching the White Cloud Birds that day.
BOING wasted no time, and asked, “Are you ready to ask me for another one of my ideas to help you solve a problem you're having with your Our Pond Community?”
“Oh, yes, yes!” NOZZLE said. “It is not really an Our Pond problem. It is the huge amount of drinking water we need each day for all those thirsty White Cloud Birds. They have become our Friends! They are being very friendly. They are learning the words we teach them every day. We talk to their leader. Also, they all understand not to drink water directly from Our Pond, because it would drain it dry. Even though they may be thirsty, not one of the hundreds of birds has ever come to drink our water!”
“ We think we have found the underground river where the ‘BIG WATER’ is. But we understand that the Friends of Our Pond are not big enough, or strong enough, to make a lake and put ‘BIG WATER’ in it. We can't even dig to the ‘BIG WATER’--and if we could reach it, we still would have no place to put it. We are not big enough, or strong enough, to do the necessary work.”
“ We have learned a great deal, and have come to love our neighbors. We want them to be able to stay near us, enjoy being wise, and, most of all, to not be thirsty! I am sorry to say, we need your help again!”
“ Wait, wait! You should not be sorry,” BOING said. “I want you to need me, and my ideas! That is the way it is for me! I like it when the ideas work. I like how you feel when they work. I like how YOU like ME when I try to help you. ‘Sorry’ never comes into it! It is not just you and me--that is the way helping is always meant to work!”
BOING understood the problem, and the kind of idea that was needed. She started her little “find-the-idea” dance. The answers were difficult, and it took some extra, dusty dancing before she had all the ideas she needed.
She finally had it organized! She called her children, HIDE and RIDE, over to hear the ideas, because she wanted them to learn and, also, to help, as much as possible
She looked over at NOZZLE, on the side of the path, and said, “ When you have a small question, you only need a small answer. When you are faced with a BIG problem you may need several BIG ideas to work together and find the answer.”
“ Here are my ideas: First Idea--Massive Help
What you need is help in building and digging. This means massive help!
You know the Friends of Our Pond cannot do it alone! You need help, BIG help to do it. Who else is there? Birds, Birds, Birds--of course! The strength to do this job is already there. The White Cloud Birds must make the Massive Help!
These Birds must be Wise--they must understand directions, and talk to each other. This means they must have Words. They have to learn many Words.
These Birds must be willing. They must want to do this long, difficult work. They must know they are working with Friends that want to help each other.
Fourth Idea—Team Spirit
The leaders of the Birds, COMMANDER and THE LITTLE, BLACK BIRD, and all the Friends of Our Pond must work together, from the start, as Friends—and a team!”
BOING added, “Simply put, for it all to work, you need the Birds to be wise and willing. The wonderful thing is that in your kindness you are already working on programs to make them wise for their own happiness, and the water is meant to solve their problems of thirst so they are sure to be willing!”
NOZZLE could see these ideas were the answer! All the Friends of Our Pond must understand all of this. All the White Cloud Birds must drink JAZZ's little umbrella contents, with extra mint, and become Wise and Normal, and learn what was happening. Most importantly, the White Cloud Bird's COMMANDER, and his helper, THE LITTLE, BLACK BIRD,
must learn about BOING's ideas—at the same moment, at the same meeting, as the one planned for the Friends of Our Pond. All must feel equal--and work together to do this huge job from the start.
And, that meant there must be a big meeting for all.
NOZZLE was floating quietly in Our Pond. He was wondering how he could talk to all those Birds at once? He had no problem with speaking to all The Friends of Our Pond together. Even with some in the water, some in the grass, and some perched in the giant Pine Tree--if he spoke loudly enough, and made every word count, they all would understand. But what could he do with hundreds of Birds. If they all sat in the trees, they would break the branches. Even then, many would not hear. Suppose the Birds sat in groups, and he walked by and said the same thing over, and over, again? No, each group would not hear the same thing.
He needed help.
Just then ZANZIBAR, the flying squirrel, came swinging by from branch to branch. He was followed by his friend, TWITTER, the little, red bird, that sang all the time, and taught her songs to all The Friends of Our Pond.
NOZZLE raised his big, long nose, and called them over. They both made a quick turn, and glided down to find out what was going on.
NOZZLE had a short question. He asked, “ How do you talk to a huge mass of Birds all at once?”
Twitter quickly replied, “Do you want them to remember what you said? If so, you sing to them with strong music.”
“No,” he replied, “I can't run around singing!”
“You don't.” interrupted Zanzibar. “These Birds live in a cloud. They fly most of the time! You form them up into a giant, flying swirl that goes round and round. TWITTER, SHARD and WHIZZY will flap their wings and stay in one place, while they sing a song with your message in it. Birds sing, and listen to song, you know! They will fly by us again and again. They will memorize your song with its music, and it will become a happy, singing part of their lives. They will end up by teaching each other, or even singing their own message song back to us.”
What a great idea, thought NOZZLE! He would tell TWITTER his short message for the Birds. She would make it into a song with music. She, and SHARD, and WHIZZY, would form a trio and sing the song to the White Cloud Birds, as they swirled by, over and over again. They would keep it up and cause the White Cloud Birds to swirl and swoop, until they all understood the message--which would help them do the work--to get the water.
NOZZLE needed to be quick! There were a lot of good things going on. It was all happening very fast.
Most of the White Birds had drunk the “tea”, with extra mint, in their little umbrella, and had become Wise. The Learning of Words was going forward faster than anyone could have imagined. Some of the Birds were even talking amongst themselves without any help, and using brand-new Words they had only learned that day.
At the same time, there was still the problem of not enough water. Even with all the work SNAG and his Chariot Crew did every day, filling little buckets of water and giving them to thirsty Birds, there still was not enough water. They needed ‘BIG WATER’ and they needed it at once!!
NOZZLE was a gifted leader. With all these issues, there still had to be leaders that helped the others, and he was that, too! There were so many differences that had to be understood. Every animal in the Friends of Our Pond was different from every other animal in the group. Birds in the White Bird Cloud were very different from every member of the Our Pond Family. To make it even more complicated, some of the White Birds were “wise”, and were even learning new words every day, while others, who had not had the “mint cure”, still flapped along without knowing anything.
All of this had to be brought together and focused on the ‘BIG WATER’ project. This was going to take an enormous amount of work and cooperation between vastly different animals.
This also meant that there had to be a basic understanding. NOZZLE knew that first there had to be Friendship! It was just that simple! Friendship would produce Trust, and that would make Understanding, and that would make it possible for all the Friends of Our Pond, and all the White Cloud Birds, to work together and get the ‘BIG WATER’.
NOZZLE thought it would be a waste of time to try to get anyone digging that first day after the discovery that water was somewhere under the Apple Tree. He just didn't say anything about it. Oh, he was so wrong! All the Birds were very excited! Some were thirsty and were already zipping around all over the sky looking to see if there was any action.
NOZZLE was still getting organized, and he wasn’t thinking about digging.
First, he sent the small kangaroo, called HIDE, to find the COMMANDER, who was leader of the White Cloud Birds.
Then, he sent TWITTER to find her friend, THE LITTLE, BLACK BIRD, who always helped the COMMANDER.
Then, NOZZLE called for his oldest friend, JAZZ, the monkey.
When they were all there, NOZZLE saw that he was looking at a group of Best Friends and that was the “Point”. He was looking at animals that were vastly different, but they Trusted each other, and that was also, the “Point”.
They all sat down together, and feasted on some fresh Berry Balls. Next, NOZZLE called for SHARD, the huge bird who seemed to know the most about underground rivers.
Then, he called SNAG, the beaver, who knew the most about digging and cutting down trees to make walls.
Then, he called BUBBLEBATH, who was swimming in the Pond, blowing bubbles. BUBBLEBATH had turned out to be more than just an artistic fish that made bright colored bubbles. He made “fun” that excited everybody! Our Pond members, and all the Wise, White Birds, were always happy to find BUBBLEBATH in action He did things that were friendly and fun--bubble, bubble, bubbles--the “Point”!!
Then, NOZZLE called WHIZZY, the dragonfly, who knew everybody, and could always get there quickly with an urgent message and a smile—the “Point”.
The COMMANDER, with his brilliant, gold chest, and long, slim, white wings, stood up. He smiled, and showed he had understood the “Point”. He said, “ My dear Friends, you have taught us the “Point”. You have given us Friendship--the “Point”. You have done everything possible for us, and we all owe you a great deal--the “Point”.”
Without another word, The COMMANDER swept his big wing down and picked up the young kangaroo, called HIDE. He did not have to say anything. He just stood there holding her, with a huge smile on his beak--the “Point”. Finally, he said, “Just tell me what we need to do, and we will do it.”
NOZZLE stood up, and said, “Yes. Thank you. Working together is--the “Point”-- and we will all win.”
THE LITTLE, BLACK BIRD was learning new Words every day. She even had enough words to say, “TWITTER and I will fly around singing together—the “Point”.”
TWITTER immediately flapped her little, red wings and said, “Now, that the Wise, White Birds have so many Words, it will be almost impossible to keep them from singing along with us! That will be wonderful! We will sing and make happiness—again, the “Point”.”
NOZZLE thought they should wait for a day to begin work on digging--in search of the underground river. But, everyone had heard at least a part of the Apple Tree story, and they were talking about it. Masses of Wise, White Cloud Birds were zooming around everywhere in the sky. They were very excited, and could not wait.
Absolutely everyone--from the Friends of Our Pond to the Cloud of White Birds-- had arrived and they were all ready to help find ‘BIG WATER’!
NOZZLE smiled to himself because he knew the “Point” had been reached!
SNAG, and SHARD, and SALLY, the little green snake, were on the side of the dry hill, just below the Apple Tree. They were trying to decide where they should start drilling to find the underground river. No one was sure, but SALLY knew the river must be where she had heard the rock make a splash in the Stone Tube.
SALLY said to the others, “ When I was in the Tube Of Stone, I could just barely hear the rushing water below me. Now, while we dig, we must listen for that s-s-sound and dig towards it.”
SALLY wriggled along in the dust at the bottom of the Apple Tree hill. She looked up and down, trying to decide where the important “splash” sound must have come from.
Finally, she pointed to a spot on the ground. “SHARD,” she hissed, as loudly as possible. “You have the longest beak. Please begin drilling deep right here!”
She thought to herself, ‘This may not be exactly right, but at least it will be a good place to s-s-start, and we can listen for rushing water.’
They were so eager to make some progress that any idea was a good one!
So, they did it--and SNAG marked the spot.
No one knew how to do the best digging. SHARD stepped forward, and stuck his big beak into the dry ground--but it only went in a little way. He tried to peck quickly a few times, and sprinkled a little more dirt around. This was clearly no good.
SHARD was used to using the power of his long wings to get where he wanted to go. He decided to jam his big beak in with a powerful thrust, and then flap his giant wings like crazy! He did it. The dust cloud was huge. But it worked! His head was deep in the ground--not very comfortable--but he did have the first beak really full of dirt!
A bunch of Wise Birds saw the huge cloud of dust, and flew over to see if they could dig a hole, too. SHARD spat out the dirt in his beak, and waved at the Birds. They began to sing a happy song. One of the little birds was TWITTER--it was the Our Pond Song!
Many excited Wise, White Birds were jumping around starting to dig new holes all over the place—Jam, Push, Flap and Sing. SHARD was very strong. The hole where he was digging was getting much deeper. NOZZLE came over to have a look, and then JAZZ showed up with a long, fat stick that SNAG had carved for him--as a sort of digging tool.
Suddenly SALLY, the snake, stuck her tongue out, and hissed, “I hear s-s-something--Ye-s-s, Ye-s-s--I hear s-s-something. I hear water--I hear a lot of water!”
JAZZ was so excited--he ran forward with the big stick and jammed it as far as possible into the deep, dusty hole that SHARD had made.
Immediately, there was a big puff of powerful wind from the hole. JAZZ was lifted off his feet and shot up into the air! Of course, he was a retired, Circus monkey and just calmly did a backward somersault, still holding onto his stick!
Then, he disappeared completely!
Suddenly, a part of the hillside just opened up and a wide, flying shaft of blue water gushed out. JAZZ was not hurt. He popped up out of the water. He still had a great smile, and he was waving to everybody.
Oh, it was so wonderful! The ‘BIG WATER’ had arrived, and the ‘THIRST’ was over.
Now the really hard work was left to be done. They had to make a lake.
As the dust cleared, TWITTER, and THE LITTLE, BLACK BIRD, showed how happy they were. They were seated on one of the Apple Tree roots, and they sang to each other. TWITTER sang the Our Pond song. THE LITTLE, BLACK BIRD sang a song she was just composing--about the ‘BIG WATER’ and how it “flew” out of the deep hole, and there was no more ‘THIRST’.
NOZZLE heard both songs, and understood they were very important! He thought to himself, ‘They must not lose these two songs. This is the Spirit they all needed. Is it not wonderful that music works that way?’
He called for CLUMP, the toad, with the great memory. “Please memorize these two songs, and help blend them into one,” he instructed.
CLUMP was nodding ‘Yes’, as he whispered the words to himself.
NOZZLE remembered that there were still some Birds that had not had the “mint cure”, and they would not be able to keep up with the others. He asked HIDE, and RIDE, to search carefully, and give the mint to the Birds that had not had it, yet--so they, too, could be Wise. He told them that it was a big job, and they should ask for help from the other, already wise, Birds. The young kangaroos were very happy about the added responsibility. They bounced away to tell their mother, BOING, about it.
NOZZLE, always worked from a plan.
The secret of a good plan was to have the animals that were going to do the work, also be the ones that made the plan . . . with his help, of course. Everything should be included, and those animals were the ones that would know what everything was!
NOZZLE knew they had to work fast!
A huge amount of water was gushing down the hill. They must quickly build a pathway for the water to get down to the lake area--and not make a swamp on the way. Hundreds, and hundreds, of Wise Birds would have to build that pathway, and dig a big, deep place for the Lake itself--or there were going to be floods everywhere.
They needed to dig a drinking pond to catch the first water coming out of the hole immediately! NOZZLE wanted this to be a drinking pond large enough for every bird to get a long drink every day.
NOZZLE knew this had to be done right away.
He jumped up, and called all the Friends of Our Pond that he could see, to follow him. He ran over to the surging water coming out of the side of the hill, waded in, and used his long nose to start digging a low place. This would become the first drinking area.
CLUMP, the toad, was there. He hopped slowly into the water, and began digging until he disappeared--maybe for a sleep on the bottom? SNAG was soon there to help. But he only stayed a short while. He had other work to direct.
Then, suddenly the White Cloud Bird COMMANDER sailed down on his great wings. That was all it took! He nodded his head, and an organized line of Birds, with beaks open, began crashing into the water. Things got very muddy, but soon there was a nice pool. The Birds had dug it with an overflow stream, pointed down the hill, where the Lake would be formed.
The job was quickly done!
NOZZLE stepped back out of the water, which was mostly clear, waved to the COMMANDER, and shouted, “ Wow!”
NOZZLE would always wonder how the Birds had learned to do that digging so fast.
The COMMANDER smiled, and shouted, “ Wow!” back.
The COMMANDER had never really learned how to use the word ‘Wow’. From that first day of ‘BIG WATER’ success, he had used it as a greeting. When the COMMANDER saw NOZZLE, he always shouted, “ Wow” . Maybe it was confusing, but ‘Wow’ always meant a lot to both of them.
The size and shape of the Lake had to be decided. How much water was there going to be in the Lake? Where would some of it go when the Lake was full? They were leaving that to SNAG, and POSEY, who would have to direct the great work from start to finish.
SNAG, and POSEY, would have to outline the edge of the Lake with logs, and mud, to form a heavy, thick wall. SNAG would choose the logs, and cut them into shape. POSEY, with the help of NOZZLE, would have to push the logs into place, and hundreds of Birds would have to bring huge loads of mud to stick it all together. This was going to take days, and days, of real work.
What was the big secret that JAZZ kept saying was not ready yet? NOZZLE knew it was something very important. Whatever it was, JAZZ went away with some Wise, White Birds every day. Each day, the number of Birds seemed to get bigger and bigger, and they worked somewhere on something new.
NOZZLE never tried to discover the secret. JAZZ was his oldest friend. NOZZLE knew that whatever it was, it was going to be super--and everyone would love the surprise. Little did NOZZLE know what a great surprise it would be, but the speed of that first digging of the Drinking Pool might have given him a hint.
As soon as the water started to flow, the White Bird area was a happier place. No one was ‘THIRSTY’. The work was long, and hard, but they all enjoyed the progress. HIDE, and RIDE, found all the Birds that needed the “mint cure”, and organized extra Word lessons for Birds that were late in getting their “mint”.
Our Pond, and the Apple Tree Hill, were pretty far apart. For those that had to walk, a ride with POSEY and her Chariot was fun, but the trip was not all that fast. If you were a Bird, or for that matter, a dragonfly, the trip was quick--a flight back and forth between the two Communities only took a short time.
Our Pond was still Our Pond, and all the Friends of Our Pond lived together. The Birds had Words. They could all talk to each other--and hundreds of Birds and animals did it all day.
But, there were still two Communities, and they were a bit different.
JAZZ, the retired Circus monkey, was out in the woods, all by himself. He had just cut a big pile of green reeds, and some thick, fat, yellow leaves. The reeds, and leaves, were just right--and he knew he was going to be able to weave a beautiful, strong cloth with them.
JAZZ was taking a little rest. He looked down at his hands and feet. His thin fingers, and long toes, were very strong. He had learned to use them for many, many jobs. He always said, “ Ask me to do something . . . the answer is ‘Yes’. Then, I have to figure out how to do it!”
JAZZ was such fun. Everybody always came out to watch when he rode POSEY, the Circus pony, around the Pond, at full speed, laughing all the time--wild laughing. Oh, it was great!
There was the other side, too. JAZZ was NOZZLE's best friend, and best helper. He was the one that organized the Friends of Our Pond meetings. And, he and WHIZZY had invented Berry Ball Soup, which everyone loved.
Now, JAZZ was ready to get started. He arranged some yellow leaves in a line, and began to weave them together, in and out, with a long green reed. It was working! He did it again. Then, he attached one row to the next. He held the cloth up to have a look, and saw five White Cloud Birds, sitting on an overhead branch, watching his every move. Right away, he heard them talking to each other, and he knew they were “wise” and “normal”. JAZZ waved—the Birds waved back, and everything was friendly. One Bird said, “ Want learn.”
And, that started everything off.
JAZZ stood up, and pointed to his hand, and then pointed to one Bird's beak. They seemed to understand. He pointed to his other hand, and pointed to the Bird's foot--they got the idea. Before JAZZ could do anything else, one Bird started to peck on a big leaf on the branch beside him. JAZZ was amazed. It looked impossible. The Bird’s beak moved back and forth so fast it was just a blur. The big, green leaf fell to the ground, in little pieces, all over the place. Now, came the big test . . . could the Birds learn to weave?
Wow--they sure could! They watched JAZZ weave some leaves together. Then, one Bird picked up some reeds, while another had some leaves, and a third Bird held them together, while a fourth Bird pulled the reed through the leaves the entire length of the reed. JAZZ had to clap, and jump around a little bit. He had never seen anything so clever. Just look at how much the Birds had finished-- in just a minute.
JAZZ looked up in the tree, and saw that some more Birds had flown in to watch. These Birds said they wanted to try and do it, too. JAZZ showed them where to find the reeds, and the yellow leaves, while still more Wise Birds arrived. They were all learning to weave from each other.
With all those flashing beaks going on and on, a “buzz, buzz” noise was heard. What JAZZ had been able to do with two hands and one foot, each bird had done with one foot and one beak. But, the Birds had divided the work, and done it together with great speed. It was friendly--it was wonderful--one Bird even said, “Fun, fun, fun!”
And, then, the most wonderful prize of the day!--three Birds sang, “Fun, fun, fun!”—they sang music! The Friends of Our Pond had not known that these Birds could sing, because before the “mint cure”, they could not.
The White Birds kept working, but wondered why JAZZ had suddenly jumped up and run away. It was not long before they found out. JAZZ soon came back with TWITTER, the little, red bird, on his shoulder. She was singing. All the Birds stopped working and listened. TWITTER sang a few notes, and waited. Several of the Wise White Birds tried to copy her.
It was not very good, but it was in the right direction—and, in one day, two great prizes had come to the Wise White Birds--weaving and music.
It was three days after the Apple Tree ‘BIG WATER’ had broken through the hillside, and the wonderful, clear, blue water still flowed. The new Drinking Pool was full of Birds splashing each other, and having a big drink. They were laughing, and talking, with the Words they had just learned.
It was not all just fun, though. There was a lot of work going on, too. There was a line of Birds waiting their turn to join in the organized digging of the stream. It would flow down the hill to form a new Lake, below the new Drinking Pool.
SNAG and POSEY were off in the distance putting in little marker sticks to show where they would build the Lake wall.
High overhead, the COMMANDER, THE LITTLE, BLACK BIRD, and TWITTER, were circling around in the sky looking down on all the happy activity. It was more than Water, and Words, and Work. It was a wonderful feeling that had become a part of everything.
There were hundreds of happy Birds being helped to do new things by the Friends of Our Pond and, of course, they were having fun together.
There was also one mystery that was getting louder and louder. There were many Birds going up into the woods, and they did not come back. Those that went up to find out what it was all about, also, did not return. JAZZ went up in the woods frequently. Even SNAG went up in the woods for a few hours. He did return, though--looking a bit tired, but he had a big smile on his face, and, also, seemed very happy.
It was four days after the ‘BIG WATER’, and no Birds were thirsty, so SHARD flew off on his powerful wings to get some exercise.
High in the hills he saw something that bothered him. He flew down closer, and he smelled something that really bothered him. He turned swiftly in the sky, and flew at full speed back to find NOZZLE.
All the Friends, and Birds, could hear SHARD coming. It was not like when POSEY arrived, with her galloping sound. This was a powerful hum, with the sound of a great wind that suddenly stopped. Here SHARD was, and he was looking for NOZZLE. They found each other, and had a brief talk.
Then, SHARD flew swiftly away, again. This time, he flew nearer to the ground, and went up the valleys to look closely at the trees. Yes, there was a smell—and, now, there were traces of smoke. This was very important! There was not much wind at the moment. Very high, up on the mountain peaks, fire was burning—but, it was not moving down the valleys, yet. With little wind, and some rain, these small fires might die out. Every few hours, SHARD would have to go back to this region, and check to see what was going on.
In the meantime, SHARD would have to tell NOZZLE, and the COMMANDER, not to alarm everybody yet. That would spoil the ‘escape from thirst’ celebration, and the wonderful fun they were all having with the ‘BIG WATER’ still flowing down the hill.
But, they must plan for the worst. What if the fire spread and did come down the hills, and valleys, towards Our Pond. How would The Friends of Our Pond get away? What would happen to the Pond? For the moment, they just hoped it would not happen—that the fire would not come!
NOZZLE had another worry, too. Now, he could not find the COMMANDER. He even sent WHIZZY to find him. But WHIZZY came back, and said, “I have been everywhere around here, and the COMMANDER must be hiding because I did not find him. I did see THE LITTLE, BLACK BIRD and TWITTER singing together. They seemed normal. THE LITTLE, BLACK BIRD usually keeps in contact with the COMMANDER, so she must know where he is and what he is doing.”
“I will ask her tomorrow,” said NOZZLE.
Early the next morning, TWITTER flew down from her nest, high in the old Pine Tree, and found NOZZLE during his morning swim. He held up his long nose, and she sat on it, in her usual spot. “I have a sort of ‘non-message’ for you,” she said quickly. “ We know you are looking for the COMMANDER. It is a fact--he is busy, and he is hiding from you. My friend, THE LITTLE, BLACK BIRD has been instructed not to answer your questions about the COMMANDER. She is sorry, but she will not be able to say anything.”
That same afternoon SHARD flew back, at full speed, to find NOZZLE. He had some bad news to report. SHARD found NOZZLE, and told him, “The wind has come up, and there has been no rain. The fire is moving towards us slowly. It is still a long way off, but, if the wind gets higher, the fire might start jumping forward and head for Our Pond.”
NOZZLE asked SHARD to fly back at once and keep watching the fire, and immediately report if the situation changed. One leap into the sky, and SHARD was gone!
As he turned to find JAZZ, NOZZLE noted that there was no “buzzing” noise going on in the forest. There was activity where SNAG and POSEY were preparing the first log for the Lake Wall. And, there were a few Birds working on digging the stream toward the Lake--deeper and deeper, as the water continued to flow.
Two hours later, everyone heard SHARD coming towards them at full speed. His message was quick. “It has happened--the wind has increased, and the fire is jumping, and may come our way.”
NOZZLE immediately pointed his huge nose toward the sky, and blew the “trumpet” sound that meant Emergency for all the Members of Our Pond! Everyone came, and, for the first time, the COMMANDER was there! He directed his wing tip toward the new Drinking Pool and everybody rushed in that direction. This was also the first time the COMMANDER had taken any action with the Our Pond Members! Hundreds of White Cloud Birds flew in and began digging the Drinking Pool deeper and deeper. Still more birds arrived, with sticks and mud in their beaks, to build a wall around the Drinking Pool making it a safe place from the heat of the approaching fire.
Even in the middle of all this confusion, NOZZLE had some new thoughts. BOING, the mother kangaroo, while doing her “ideas dance”, had told him that a big problem needs big strength. And this is what actually happened. The COMMANDER had the combined strength of hundreds of Birds equipped with Words. They could talk and work with each other. The COMMANDER was clever, and had asked JAZZ for help. “Yes,” JAZZ had said. He and his fast fingers knew how to weave. He could help, and he did. So, what had happened?
The Friends of Our Pond saw something very strange coming towards them in the sky. As it got closer, they could see it was some kind of “roof” woven of reeds--that was being pulled along by lines and lines of Birds, flapping their wings at full power to keep it in the air. Still other Birds were zooming down above it with beaks full of water--spitting on the roof to make it fireproof.
NOZZLE waved for the Our Pond Members to hide in their special mud, and water places, deep in the Drinking Pool. The “roof” was dropped lower and lower, until it was fitted in place over the pool. The fire was coming closer. It was getting pretty hot everywhere, but the wet Roof, and deep water, protected everyone from the fire, including a lot of tired Birds.
Suddenly, the COMMANDER, and another mass of Birds, high in the sky, away from the heat, turned and headed in the direction of Our Pond. They seemed to know where they were going, and what they were going to do. Every beak was full of mud and stones.
Hours later, a very, very tired, and slightly singed SHARD flopped down from the clouds, and announced, “You are all safe! The fire has been put out! From here you could not see it, but the COMMANDER, and his Birds, built a great, huge, mud wall all around Our Pond. The fire never reached it. Nothing important was damaged. Tomorrow, you will all be able to go home, as if nothing had ever happened."
There was a lot of excitement--everywhere. Almost the entire wall around the Lake was finished There was even going to be a pretty, little waterfall over the Lake wall. This was to take the overflow, as the water continued spurting out from the opening they had dug under the Apple Tree.
Day by day, there was a lot of “buzzing” in the forest. Hundreds of Birds worked there all the time, but they kept their secret. No outsider really knew what JAZZ was helping the Birds to build.
NOZZLE, the huge anteater, was the Leader of Our Pond. His oldest, and best friend was JAZZ, the retired Circus monkey. On a sunny morning, you might find NOZZLE taking his morning swim in the Pond, with JAZZ sitting up on his back--JAZZ did not like wet feet. They would be in deep conversation about matters concerning the Friends of Our Pond. Everyone was talking about the big Meeting when the Lake was finished, and NOZZLE wanted to discuss it with JAZZ during their usual morning meeting, floating in Our Pond.
NOZZLE said, “So many things have happened since WHIZZY, and TWITTER, found that strange, white cloud of silly birds banging into each other with no “understanding”. They were thirsty, and were crashing around trying to find water. Now, here we are helping them build a lake. They are all our dear Friends led by the big, golden- chested COMMANDER, and THE LITTLE, BLACK BIRD, that now sings with TWITTER!”
“ How did this happen? We all worked together. We combined our skills, and we saw that we would first have to be Friends, real Friends with the White Cloud. The Our Pond Family never gave up-- just think!”
“SNAG, the beaver, looked for water every day. He filled those little buckets, and helped the thirsty Birds, while at the same time he hunted for ‘BIG WATER’, until he found it.”
“SALLY, the snake, went down a dark, stone tube, all by herself, until she heard the splash of an underground river. Was she not brave?”
“SHARD, the great bird, flew miles and miles, through smoke and heat, to warn us of fire--not once--but again, and again!”
“BOING, the kangaroo, with her children, HIDE and RIDE--her understanding, and just her “Ideas”—was most invaluable!”
“ We saw that the White Birds needed a language. They needed “ Words”. Who taught them? Two Kangaroo children, new to Our Pond, taught them three, new words every day. HIDE and RIDE learned to make pictures to help with quick understanding, and, of course, they, too, learned more new words at the same time.”
“And don't forget, BUBBLEBATH, the artistic fish that blows colored bubbles with such fun and love, always points attention to where it is needed.”
“ How could we have done anything without powerful POSEY, the Circus pony, galloping along with her old Chariot--always swinging around with something important in it!”
“And, KATE, the old catfish, who seemed to grow younger and younger as she came out from her sad home at the bottom of Our Pond--how many tines did she help save us at the last moment?”
NOZZLE added, “Our Pond is a loving Community of dear Friends-- we all look different--we all are different—and, yet, our combined skills, and imagination make everything possible.”
“Now, I have heard something new is coming! Way up, at the top of the old Pine Tree, Every day I hear it--it is Music. It is not just our dear TWITTER singing to us. It is the combined voices of many, many Birds, directed by TWITTER! She is giving Love in the form of Music. Yes, now we know the “ mint cure” has helped our White Cloud Friends to sing. All birds sing don't they?” he added.
“It is very important! Music helps everybody!!”
It only took a few more days, and everything was done. The Lake was filling up. The Drinking Pool had been fixed after the fire. Now, it was very welcoming for anyone who was thirsty, and wanted a cool drink.
They had even built an island in the middle of the Lake. The COMMANDER, and THE LITTLE, BLACK BIRD, knew a lot about vegetables. Some of the Wise Birds had gone out with them to bring back all sorts of seeds. They had planted them on what they now called Farm Island.
NOZZLE, and the COMMANDER, with THE LITTLE, BLACK BIRD,
had spent a whole day together planning the ‘BIG WATER’ Festival. All the Friends of Our Pond were invited to the First Official Festival Day!
They were lucky. The Festival Day opened on a calm, sunny morning.
It had been decided that all The Friends of Our Pond would be the invited guests in, or around, a tiny pool that had been dug--just a short way below the famous Apple Tree. From there, they could see the whole Lake and the sky above. All was quiet until TWITTER stood up on NOZZLE's nose and directed the singing of the Our Pond Song. BUBBLEBATH shot out a huge stream of red bubbles that drifted up above their heads. When the music stopped, there was complete quiet. Then, from somewhere far away, there was another song sung by Birds. Hundreds and hundreds of Birds were flying down from high above singing a beautiful song meant to say ‘Thank you’. The Cloud of Birds was just so thick you could not see through it. Closer and closer it came --lower and lower. Yes, now they could see something . . . there was a big something in the cloud. Many White Birds were flapping very hard to hold it up. This must be what all the “buzz, buzz” was about.
The COMMANDER stood up on the side of the Lake. The White Bird Cloud came toward him, with THE LITTLE, BLACK BIRD leading the singing. Suddenly, the Cloud of White Birds opened in the middle, and everyone could see a soft, green, woven building being settled down beside the Lake edge. Oh, look, JAZZ was there, directing the landing. What a beautiful thing it was! It was green, with a brown roof. It had round windows surrounded with yellow flowers. Everything was woven together with reeds, and sticks, and thick leaves. Where you could see inside, there were all these thin, black, bird perches, while on the floor there were little chairs, and tables, made to fit the Friends of Our Pond. It must have been SNAG that made the new, big, water bucket for KATE, the catfish, BUBBLBATH, the artistic fish, SALLY, the snake, and CLUMP, the toad, when they visited for concerts.
Yes, for concerts--for this was clearly a small house of Music--ready for all.
It was a day of Love and Joy that would never be forgotten.