Story 3

Our Pond and the BOING Festival


Deep in the pond, KATE, the fat, old catfish, was barely moving her big, long tail. The bright sunlight, way up on the surface, never sparkled on her home just over the sandy bottom. She was used to  the still water around her being cloudy and dark. It was  morning, but that made no difference. She only woke up when she was  hungry! As usual, she was bored.

Usually, BUBBLEBATH, the artistic fish, was busy blowing great bubbles, but this morning he had no energy. He puffed out a couple of very tiny bubbles and they floated away--unnoticed by anyone. He didn't even need to look around to see if any of  the Friends  of Our Pond were interested? He was bored. There was no action anywhere! All the Friends of Our Pond were bored, bored, bored!

Ah, but that was not going to last very long! A big ‘something’ was about to happen!

And then, it did happen, but no one knew really what it was! That same evening there was a lot of discussion about who heard it first? Or did someone feel it first? And who saw it?

NOZZLE, the giant anteater, who was the Pond Leader, got up from his pile of logs and showed that he was not frightened. As usual, his calm  attitude tended to settle things down. But, still, there were  a  lot of questions, and the Our Pond Friends continued to whisper quietly about the matter.

KATE, way down at the bottom of the Pond, felt it. It was as if a  limb from the big, pine tree had fallen in the water with a crash. Then, there had  been another crash,  and another, and still another.  It was like the crashes were getting closer,  and still closer.  KATE was looking up through her whiskers to see if anything was coming down through the water.  Would she have to flap her  tail to get out of the way?

WHIZZY, the dragonfly, who was usually very quick, jumped off his lily pad and hovered over the water. He thought he had seen ‘something’ going  by. He was  not sure  if  it had  gone  up,  or gone
down, or just gone by. But, he was sure there had been  a  ‘happening’, and he wanted to tell the others  about it,  but he still  did not know what to say. Everyone counted on him to be the Our Pond Messenger,  but, of course, he had to be  accurate.

NOZZLE knew that he was expected to take some action, so  he asked JAZZ, the retired circus monkey, to call a general meeting of the Friends of Our Pond. NOZZLE was always a good leader and his first thought was to find out if something dangerous was going on. Did he have to take some quick action to defend the Friends of the Pond? Everyone respected him as their leader.

The Friends quickly quieted down to hear what NOZZLE had to say. In this case, they were disappointed. NOZZLE was not saying anything. They could all see he was thinking, but he did not seem to know any more than they did. Yes, everyone was now sure ‘something’ had happened, but that is all they knew.

JAZZ was seated, as usual, right beside NOZZLE. His eyes were all squinched shut--like he was trying to remember something. It was something from his days with the Circus. He had not seen the ‘something’ that had happened, but he had heard it, and it almost reminded him of something he remembered . . . Oh, what was  it?

CLUMP, the toad, was the last to arrive. This was normal. He was always very busy  with  his  research, and  he  didn't  move  very  fast. He    made  one    of    his    usual    choking    sounds    that    sounded    like ‘Kerchunk’, which meant he was going to say something very important! “I have made some observations, and found where this mysterious  thing has  landed,”  he croaked.

Before he could say any more, SALLY, the little green snake, wriggled swiftly down off her special, warm rock, and splashed into the pond, hissing, “ What did it look like?”

“ Well, I really didn't get a good look at it,” replied CLUMP. “It just went ‘Boing’, and went away. I thought I better leave, and then, I heard another ‘Boing’ coming closer, and I decided to stop my research. I am not as fast on my poor, webbed  feet as I used to be.”

With that, ZANZIBAR, the flying squirrel, shouted down  from  his nest high in the pine tree “ We know--you were never as fast as  you  used to be.”

“Ok, Ok--all right!” said CLUMP. “It was a big noise, and it was coming  my  way,  and I had no idea of  where to  go,  and I was  afraid  to do whatever it was that was best . . . so  there!  Kerchunk, Kerchunk.” he said, as  he  hopped  back  to  his  usual  nest  in  the  mud.

Suddenly, JAZZ jumped  up  and waved  his  thin  arms,  “Yes,  I have  it! I remember . . . in the Circus . . . there was this animal . .   .”

But, before he could say anything more, there was a big ‘Boing’ sound, and then another, louder ‘Boing’, and then a very, very loud ‘Boing’ on the path just behind where POSEY, the retired circus pony, was standing. Swoosh . . . a great, big, flying animal, with huge back legs, was leaping along--right over POSEY, who did a few jumps of her own--all at once--in different  directions.

The animal with the big ‘Boing’ was not just walking,  or  running,  or flying--it was doing them all together. It was jumping—massive, long, powerful jumps--one right after the other. It was covering the ground faster than anyone could run . . . almost like it was flying! It was impossible to tell exactly where it was going to land next. Everyone flew into action. Some were running, some were trying to fly, some dived in the water--all were trying to get away. But no one seemed to be sure where ‘away’ was  exactly,  so they just  jumped and bumped and fell all over each other--some even laughing in the confusion.

NOZZLE stood up to his full height and smiled a big smile. The ‘BOING’ skidded to a halt, settled down on  her  back legs,  like  she  was seated  in a chair,  and said,  “Greetings.”

NOZZLE replied, “ Welcome.” And everybody knew it  was  going  to be all right.

JAZZ jumped up, still waving his hands over his head, and shouted  to all the Friends, “Yes, I met a ‘BOING’ in the Circus long ago . . . they are very good fun! They are called kangaroos. They come from a great country called Australia in the middle of the ocean. It is a very long way from here. You will see, she smiles all  the time  and always has a lot of great ideas!”

SALLY, the little green snake, looped her body around and around   in circles until she could stretch up high, so everyone could see her. She asked, “ What is your name?”

“ Well,” said the jumping visitor, “ Where I come from we all call each other  what  we  know  about them.”

Twitter, the little red bird who sang happy songs all the  time,  hopped up on a twig and said, “All we know of you is ‘Boing’--could we call you that?”

“Absolutely,” she replied. “BOING--that must be the way it was meant to be!”

The Friends of Our Pond all clapped. They knew they had a new Friend with ‘ideas’, and it was going to be great fun!

SNAG, the beaver who lived down the stream where he had built a house in the water, was swimming across the Pond.  He  was  pushing a wooden bucket he had carved with his sharp teeth. The bucket was full of fresh berries that he had collected. He held the bucket up to BOING as a gift, and everyone cheered again. BOING shared the berries with everybody and it was so good!

SHARD, known as the giant humming bird who could hum, but not sing, settled on a branch, and asked in his usual low voice, “Are  there more of you coming, or are you alone so far from home?”

“Oh,” replied BOING, “It’s just me, and my children.”

“ When are they coming?” asked BUBBLEBATH, as  he  popped  his  head  out  of  the  water.

“Oh, they are here,” replied BOING. “They are very young.”

Everyone was looking around, but they saw no  children.

“Oh, now I remember how it works  with  you,” said  JAZZ  laughingly.

“Show them!”

Just at that moment, a small paw stretched up from the fur on BOING's stomach and it reached for some berries in the bucket that she was holding. “Ah, yes, here they are.” said BOING, with a big smile. “ When they are this young I carry them in my pouch where it is warm and they can be comfortable. There are two of them.”

BUBBLEBATH came up with two, fat, blue bubbles and pushed them over to BOING, as a gift.

“ What are their names?” asked WHIZZY, as he flew closer.

“ Well,” BOING explained, “ We try to name each other for how we know each other. Here they are--the small one is still a bit timid. I call her HIDE, for that is what she does. Here is her brother. He is a bit bigger, and likes to ride outside as we jump along. You can call him RIDE. So, here we  are,  and we  will  be happy to  stay, and we  will  also make a contribution.”

That is the moment when BOING, and HIDE and RIDE, became members of  the Friends  of  Our Pond.

All the Friends went to their sleeping places that night  and wondered what ‘contribution’ BOING was going to give them.

There was another meeting, in the same place, the next morning. BOING approached NOZZLE and stood beside him as she announced, “ My special skill is that I always have new ‘ideas’, and they always work! I have them all the time, and I will give them to you whenever you ask.”

“ Well, I am ready to ask right now,” said NOZZLE. “This has been a very hot summer. The Friends of Our Pond have all been complaining  to me about being bored. They have no energy, and cannot think of anything new. I know this is a strange request, but do you  have  any idea about how to fix this problem?”

“Ah, yes . . . it will take a moment.” BOING replied, as she started taking little  jumps  around in a  circle.  Small  puffs  of  dust built up into a cloud. The Swimmers jumped into the water, while the Flyers flapped their wings. The earth-bound Walkers stepped back to avoid the dust. Suddenly, BOING had an idea. She  stopped  her  little  dance and stood completely still. “ We all become bored when we do the same thing over and over. Boredom immediately goes away when we do something different!” she exclaimed.

“ Well, my idea is to tell you some rules on how to be different. First, you have to accept this as a fun thing—something that you are going to find amusing. You are all going to take part in a Festival. You will show how clever you have been in accepting the rules and doing something different. You will demonstrate something for everyone and you will make them laugh,” explained BOING. “Starting tomorrow morning, those of you that fly must become like those of you that swim, while those of you that normally swim will organize and appear to fly. Those of you who normally walk the earth will walk backwards and cover one eye to make it more difficult.”

“ Wait, Wait!” cried BUBBLEBATH.  “I have to  have my  head in  water to  breathe,  how can  I possibly fly in  the air?"

“Of course, you cannot do the impossible, but must see how close to the impossible you can pretend,” suggested BOING. “There are some fish that actually do fly, you know, and they look like they're flying when they’re actually doing it. Most animals have difficulty in walking backwards, and with only one eye open it’s even more difficult. With a horse looking over its shoulder, or down between its hind legs, which way is backward? If you picked up a shiny pebble and looked at it with one eye open, you still get a complete picture of what is behind you. Now, take ZANZIBAR, the flying squirrel--he does everything. He flies, he swims and he walks in any direction he chooses. What will he show us—to surprise us and make us laugh?”

“Also, one thing I didn't mention . . . you can help each other. For example, only JAZZ has little fingers that can tie things together, and only SNAG can carve wood.”

“You need someone to keep things organized and keep some sort of record of who has done what. I suggest that CLUMP, the toad, has the qualities to do this the best. Your Leader, NOZZLE, will make the best Captain of Activities. He will have to decide where the audience is going to watch the demonstrations.

“Look!! Already, that which is boring is gone. Can anyone tell  me where it went?” BOING asked. “Now, I have to feed my  babies. See  you tomorrow morning.”

One of the reasons NOZZLE was such a great Leader was that he made good decisions and got to work at once. As it became dark, and all the other Friends went to their beds, NOZZLE was already moving masses of dirt into a big pile beside the Pond. In his mind, he knew this was going to provide a high place where each of the Friends could build a space that fit them exactly as they watched the demonstrations. Those who needed water would be lower, and those who flew would be on top. He kept digging, but even as he did heavy work, he was laughing to himself about his own demonstration. He had learned to do this little stunt when he was very young, but he was sure he could still do it. What a way to open the program, he thought!

After two days, the sound of activities got louder and louder.  Some  of the animals were building things while others were already practicing their demonstrations--having a lot of fun! CLUMP, the toad, went around every day remembering who was ready and who needed more time. Poor JAZZ was so busy making things for other animals that he was up every night working away. Finally, it was done. The big pile of dirt and mud had special chairs and nests scattered all over it. There were even a couple of SNAG's big wooden buckets full of water right at the top with JAZZ standing between them for some reason.

Then, they were all ready. CLUMP waved a red stick plastered with berry juice as a signal for SHARD, the giant bird Friend, to zoom down and scatter berries on everyone. The Festival was about to  start.

Suddenly, there was a huge water fountain breaking the surface on the far side of the Pond, and a great trumpeting of sound. JAZZ pushed the two water buckets down over the front side of the dirt pile and it became a mudslide. They all could see that something was coming across the Pond, just under the water. It was coming faster and faster. It broke the surface and there were NOZZLE's back feet, skimming the surface. He must be on his stomach for there came his rear end. The water from the buckets had turned the front of the pile to mud. The trumpeting sound had become deafening. It was NOZZLE blowing water through his great, long nose and it was shooting him backwards up the mudslide to his chair at the top. It only took a minute, but they had never seen anything like it before. They were crying with laughter as they saw NOZZLE even had both his front paws over his eyes. The Festival had truly begun! Anyone looking carefully could see that NOZZLE was smiling to himself. He still could blow himself backwards on his stomach.

The second demonstrator was ZANZIBAR. They all knew he could do everything, naturally. He, of course, planned to show everything he could do! He ran backwards down his very high limb  on  the  great pine tree, with one eye closed. Then, he threw himself off into the air and glided down to the Pond with a splash.  He  began  to swim on the surface,  and then swam down deep. Finally, he came  up and began to do the backstroke. At the very end of his demonstration, he raised his tail, covered his eyes, and  made his back feet jump up and down as if he was running backwards. It looked so funny--and the laughter began again. Yes, he had done everything!

NOZZLE looked up at WHIZZY, who was quietly hovering  about three feet above his favorite lily pad. He asked WHIZZY, “ What do you think our fish artist is going to do as his   demonstration?”

“ Well, he has  one  big advantage,”  answered WHIZZY.

“ What is that?”  asked NOZZLE.

“ Well, he has color. I don’t know how he does it, but he has a great imagination, and he can make bubbles any size and color he wants,” explained WHIZZY.

NOZZLE understood what he meant, and was just thinking about it when there was a big splash, and BUBBLEBATH himself shot up to the surface of the Pond. He did not wait for a ‘Hello’ or ‘How are you?’—he just started talking. He asked NOZZLE if he could have the Pond--with no visitors--for two days while he set up his Boing Festival demonstration.

NOZZLE  was  very  pleased  and  said  ‘that  was  fine,  and  what  days did he want’? They agreed on the days, and as BUBBLEBATH got ready to leave, he added, “I have asked SALLY,  the  little,  green  snake, CLUMP, the toad, and SNAG, the beaver, to help  me.”

It was the morning of the BUBBLEBATH demonstration. Everyone was there expecting something dramatic and artistic. They settled down and got quiet. Nothing happened. They remained sitting there--just waiting. JAZZ had some berries to share. He smiled and passed his little bucket ‘round. Some said ‘Thank you’ as they got a handful of berries and there was the sound of munching. Other than this, everything remained completely quiet. Then, a very tired- looking red bubble, decorated with tiny white bubbles, drifted to the surface. BUBBLEBATH appeared with seven or eight small green bubbles and stuck them here and there, up on the red one, to make a funny face. He stopped and waved, as if his act was over, before he sank away to the bottom of the Pond.

BOING was sitting there with her children, HIDE and RIDE, looking out of her pouch. She did not seem very pleased with BUBBLEBATH’s  demonstration.  They  all  were  looking  at  her  to  see if she was going to say something, when, suddenly, a huge mass of small, blue bubbles blasted up from deep in the Pond. Then, there was a rush of light green bubbles, then more blue ones slightly  larger. It was getting to look like a bright-colored, fresh water pond. When this settled a stream of very small clear bubbles with no color—just full of air--came up around the edges of the blue pond. Again, all was quiet. And then, a giant, red bubble came to the surface and exploded--shooting water over everybody.

Most of the audience thought the demonstration was over. They thought that BUBBLEBATH had made a lot of colored bubbles and set off a big one which had gotten them all wet. Maybe that was the idea behind his colorful demonstration. They were still sitting there, rather disappointed, and undecided about what to do, when an amazing huge, clear bubble, shaped like a fat banana, flashed to the surface.

It was a very strong-looking, clear bubble—the biggest that they had ever seen. It was half-full of water, and half-full of air. BUBBLEBATH was swimming inside it--back and forth--one end to the other. But, wait—he was bouncing back and forth--sometimes flying in the air inside the huge, banana bubble--and sometimes swimming in the water inside the banana--back and forth and back and forth--bounce into the air--bounce into the water! Everyone was amazed, but what did it all  mean?

Suddenly, ZANZIBAR figured it out, “What an amazing  trick!”

“Look, look,” he shouted. “BUBBLEBATH is doing both. He is swimming like a fish in the banana water, and then he is flying like   a bird in the air in the banana. See him now—how he does  both!”

BOING jumped up and started to clap and cheer. She scooped up her children who jumped to the ground and began dancing around with her. The audience could see that BOING was delighted with the demonstration.

By this time they’d all gotten the idea of the BUBBLEBATH performance. They were cheering as loudly as possible. BUBBLEBATH leapt through the middle of the banana bubble, flew up into the sky, and dived back into the water. The  animals all started to stand up convinced  that the show was really now  over,  but they were wrong again. Because, suddenly, a line of big, gold bubbles came to the surface--each attached to a fresh branch  of sweet, red berries–enough for all.

SALLY, the little green snake, had a  problem  in  deciding what  she was. It was time  for  her  demonstration!  She  started  by  sitting  on  her warm stone at the edge of the  pond,  and  explained  what  she  could and could not do. She  said,  “I can s-s-swim on  the  surface of the Pond and dive a bit deeper from time to time, but I am not really a S-s-swimmer. I can swing from limb to  limb  in  the forest, but that is not really flying, s-s-so I am not a Flyer. I do not have feet so I cannot really be a Walker. There is one thing I can do to travel that no one els-s-e can do, so it must be me, and here it is--I can wriggle s-s- sideways from left to right (and she  did  it), or  right to  left (and  she  did it), or I can wriggle up and down (and she did it), or down and up (and she did it). I can do all of them, one after the other, with both my eyes closed, and I can go backwards whenever I want!! (and she did  it).”

All the animals looking down on this amazing demonstration remained quiet for a moment, and then they started to clap and shout. They had never thought about what SALLY had to do  to move around the Pond, and, now that they saw it, they realized how wonderful it was. Wriggling fast, wriggling slow, up and down, and round and round, but always going in some direction--the one she wanted!

POSEY was a strong pony who had learned many tricks in the Circus. With the help of NOZZLE, she had built a ramp out from the big, mud hill. She reared up at the top of the hill, galloped down the ramp and launched herself out into space over the water. Then, she dived into the Pond with a powerful splash, and swam to the sandy bottom. No one saw her for a moment until she came out of the water back-end first, with one eye closed. Once on dry land again, she reared up and gave two huge kicks into the air which shot her backwards. With her mane over her eyes, she was doing exactly what BOING's rules had said one must do.

Of course, everyone was impressed with her agility and strong movements so the cheering started again.

They were finishing their berries and getting ready for the next demonstration. POSEY, and her mud ramp for the big jump into the water, had left a real mess. No one noticed that there was a big, fat log lying there near the top. NOZZLE was up in his chair, blowing through his long nose. WHIZZY was wondering what was causing the delay. He jumped into the air and peered around as he cruised higher and higher. Oh, there! He thought he saw something move. But he was not sure. He flew down and settled on the log--and something moved again. Then he knew . . . it was the muddy log itself! It shifted just a bit and started to roll. WHIZZY popped into the air and looked back. This stupid, old log was slithering and bouncing down the hill faster and faster. JAZZ thought it was going to hit him. He swirled around on his tail just in time. TWITTER was the next in the way of the falling log as it bounced its way towards the water. No time for a song--she just flew straight up and was safe. Now, everybody was watching the log as it crashed into the water. All the Friends in the lower seats were drenched. They were complaining, and wiping off mud and water as the old log drifted over towards SALLY, the little snake’s, warm rock.

It was getting late and the audience was not all that happy. They  were looking over to see if NOZZLE was going to make an announcement about the delay. No one was watching the log, but somehow  it  had  drifted  up  and  onto  the  warm  rock  at  the  water’s edge. There must have been a little wave, or something, because the log had one end in the water    and the other  sort of up on the bank.

CLUMP raised his voice and asked if anyone knew what was going on? A general discussion started. Everyone seemed to have  something to say. No one was paying any attention to the log when two slim feet came out of the bottom of it, and the log stood up, and started to walk away. From the position of the walking  feet you could see that the log was walking  backwards.

Something in the log was chewing at the top end--a big piece of log fell  off,   and  there  was  SNAG’s  smiling  face,  with  his  always  big, white teeth sticking out of the hollowed out log. What confusion-- they all were shouting and laughing. What a wonderful trick to play. What a wonderful demonstration of walking backwards, and being very different.

SHARD, the humming bird, was sure he had a good idea, but it was going to take some time, and a lot of work! SNAG would have to help him, and, of course, TWITTER would need to be there. Also, it was not going to work in the Pond, or even near the  Pond.

SHARD flew over to see CLUMP. He wanted to know if the rules said that the demonstration  had  to  take  place  right  there  beside  the  Pond, in front of the pile of dirt  and  mud  that  NOZZLE  had  prepared. ‘Kerchunk, Kerchunk’--CLUMP seemed very pleased to be asked about the rules. He thought for a moment, and then said, “BOING never mentioned the subject, and no one had ever asked her about it, so I suppose the demonstration could  be  anywhere.  Kerchunk, Kerchunk, Kerchunk!”

“Good, don't ask her, or even mention it to anyone,” said SHARD, as he flapped his great wings and slowly disappeared over the  trees.

The next day, SNAG and TWITTER both agreed to not only help SHARD with his demonstration, but, also, to keep it all secret. SHARD could see that all three of them were already having fun with the huge project. SNAG was known to be a fast worker. He began cutting and carving wood immediately, as TWITTER composed a new song, as she swooped among the branches on her tiny wings.

SHARD had a meeting with NOZZLE and CLUMP telling them both where he wanted to do his demonstration. The time was agreed, and WHIZZY was sent out, on his silver wings, to tell everybody where and when SHARD was going to perform.

Two days later, the morning was bright and clear and  all  the  Friends of Our Pond were on their way to the waterfall by SNAG's new house in the stream. He called it a ‘lodge’, but it sure looked  like a house. Wooden chairs and places had been arranged around  the base of the waterfall--in the water, on the grass, and even in the trees--so everyone could see what was going to  happen.

TWITTER was on a branch that stuck out over the water. Suddenly, she started to sing a new song that the Friends had never heard before. She sang it all the way through, as loud  as possible. Then, she jumped up and sang it in time to her dance in the air. Soon, everybody was singing as she swooped around again, and  again.

Nobody had noticed that SNAG was hiding with a long, flat board in his strong arms. Suddenly, he pushed it up against a huge rock on  the very top of the waterfall and the water became a flat sheet of rushing, silver ‘smoothness’, with the sun right behind it, as it fell down to the Pond below. Right in the middle of this rushing display was the great bird called SHARD, copying the movements of TWITTER's wings as she flew by, still singing.

Everyone saw there was a giant bird swimming in the water, and imitating  TWITTER’s flying  at  the  same  time--which  was  he,  bird or fish? Right in front of them, with all the movements of  flying, he was swimming. He was going up and down, and there was no question about the swimming--water was splashing everywhere! They  all  were  getting  wet,  and  they  were  having  so  much  fun!

SHARD had done his demonstration. He picked up his wooden bucket of berries and gave everybody a shower. They were still singing the new song as they went home chewing berries . . . what absolute fun!

JAZZ was always ‘fun’ to begin with. He had all these tricks he had learned in the Circus, and he remembered every one! When the Friends talked about it, before the JAZZ demonstration, they wondered if it would be simple. JAZZ could just walk backwards with a patch over his eye and that would be it! On the other hand, JAZZ was just made of ‘fun’. He was always exciting and full of surprises. What would he do?

They all were ready in their places around NOZZLE's dirt pile. Something was coming! Faster and faster, down the little road it came! They all recognized it . . . it was the pounding hoofbeats of POSEY's best gallop. Here they came! JAZZ was standing on his head in the middle of her back. He was dancing up and down. Her mane was flying. He was leaping down to the ground and bouncing right back up, and then he did it on the other side. POSEY did not stop, but as she turned, JAZZ grabbed her  streaming  tail  and  started doing skip-rope on her back. Then, POSEY dived into the Pond and came out bucking and kicking. Somehow JAZZ held on, and had time to wave with one hand. They did not even seem to be getting tired.

CLUMP stood up, and said in a loud voice, “Kerchunk. This is all very beautiful, but what do the rules say?”

BOING was in her place on NOZZLE's dirt hill. She went ‘Boing’, ‘Boing’ . . . ‘Boing’, and arrived in front of the snorting pony.

“JAZZ,” she said, in a scolding voice, “You are a walking animal. We want to see you go backwards  with one eye closed.”

JAZZ stopped all movement, then turned his head to the side, as if figuring it out, and suddenly threw his hands back over his head, all the way around ‘til they hit the ground. Then, he pushed off until he spun around and his feet hit the ground--then his hands, and then his feet, then his hands, and then his feet. When the backflips got going really well he put one hand over one eye, and he was doing just as the rules said--Going  backwards  with  only  one eye open--and it was just impossible  fun!

CLUMP was a strangely arranged animal. He could jump frontwards or backwards. He could swim frontwards or backwards. He could crawl, or form himself up into a ball and roll around, but when he was young there were other things he could do that just might look like fun, and would be unexpected. He would need  help,  and  he knew where to find it. SALLY, the little, green snake, was always ready to help anyone and she was particularly ready  to  help  CLUMP, who was pretty helpless under some conditions. She also had some unfair problems because she was a s-s-snake and many animals were afraid of snakes.

They went together to ask NOZZLE if they could practice their demonstration--scheduled in two days down by the Pond--with no visitors permitted? His only question was, “Is  it  going  to  be something ‘fun’?”

“Oh yes,” they said, “If it works, it will be a big surprise, and lots of fun.”

“Fine,” said NOZZLE. “I will call a meeting and explain what you  need so you will not be  bothered.”

They had not mentioned it, but as the two got ready, every evening  as the sun went down, they could hear CLUMP making some terrible, absolutely awful noises before he went to sleep.

The day of CLUMP's demonstration finally arrived. Everybody came to their places beside the Pond. Nobody expected much. CLUMP  was pretty old. He moved slowly, made strange noises, and seemed to want everyone to think he was very clever. It started with the new song from TWITTER, but even that did not get things moving.

CLUMP slowly lowered his heavy body into the water and demonstrated swimming forward and backwards. Then  he  rolled into a ball and tumbled around in the water for a few minutes, and then  he  disappeared  into   some  big  bushes  by  the  water’s  edge. Suddenly, he made a huge, honking noise and jumped from a  flat rock onto a big rubbery-looking leaf. From there, up to   another, still
bigger, rubber leaf, and on up the tall rubber plant--from one leaf to the next--each jump being longer than the one before. He kept making these hideous choking sounds as his huge jumps got bigger and bigger. Finally, he got to the top of the bush and hit  the last,  very large, rubbery leaf with a ‘Splat’ that drove him high out over the water. Now, he was not his usual ball shape. He was  stretched  flat with his webbed feet in front, and his strong legs way out-- straight behind. And he was gliding, and controlling his direction around in an arch--he was flying!

No one could believe what was happening above their heads, and when he skidded across the Pond waters, they screamed  with  delight. Their dear, old CLUMP had done the impossible--and had shown them a ‘fun’ thing they never knew he could do.

TWITTER was holding onto her favorite little branch, way up in the old, pine tree. She often came here to compose a new tune that she could sing for all her Friends of Our  Pond. But, this morning she  had a different kind of problem. She needed to explain it  to somebody and she was not sure which ‘somebody’ it should be.

She did not want NOZZLE to think she was not being a good  member of the Our Pond Family, and she did not want to hurt BOING’s feelings about how to change boredom, but she clearly had to set things straight. She sang a little while longer  and  finally  found a new tune she felt she liked, so she dropped off the twig and glided down through the branches. In the end she didn't have to  make a decision because there was BOING right below her trying to get her smaller child, HIDE, to smile, as she climbed out of the pouch.

TWITTER knew that the best way to approach someone who was  not expecting her, was to arrive with a nice song. She began  one,  and it was very effective--for not only did BOING look up and greet her with a welcoming wave, HIDE popped out of the pouch and smiled. She even danced around a little bit as TWITTER finished the song.

BOING settled back on her legs  for she could see that something  was on TWITTER's mind that needed attention.

“ Well,” TWITTER said, “It may seem a funny thing, but I am really never bored. I always can sing, and  mostly  it  makes  others  not  bored. So, for me to learn to fly backwards, or swim in the Pond, or close one eye, or whatever, would not be solving  a problem that was not there. Putting it that way, I suppose it is confusing, but if I could  sing a song of ‘non-boredom’, maybe it would directly help people not  to be bored, and it would be a contribution to the anti-boredom exercises.”

“Oh, great!” exclaimed BOING. “You are absolutely right. After everyone has  made  their demonstrations,  you  could  lead  them all  in a wonderful song of ‘non-boredom’. Why don't you teach the children  to dance to it? Wait, wait, I have a new Idea. After the last demonstration, we pretend it’s all over. NOZZLE will call a General Meeting and you as the only ‘always non-bored member of  the  Friends’ will be put in charge of the final ceremony--proving all boredom has  gone,  and new Ideas  have won.”

“Oh, yes!” chirped TWITTER. “I can do that--I would be happy to do it. I just hate boredom, and I have some musical ideas.”

WHIZZY, the dragonfly, only felt bored when he visited one of his friends who was bored. All the talk was about moving in different ways--like swimming, or walking, or flying. He was not worried about it. He knew he could create a demonstration that no one else could match, but how could he keep their attention? He was just thinking about that as he skimmed over the Pond and came to the sand where there was a pile of little, white pebbles that he had not noticed before. Ah, a good idea! Now he knew how to keep their attention! In POSEY’s chariot, from her Circus days, they had found an old drum that was used during chariot races to excite  the audience. He could have one of the Friends move it over in front of NOZZLE's area before his demonstration.

CLUMP was looking around for WHIZZY to ask him when he would be ready for his demonstration. WHIZZY's reply was, “ As soon as they put my drum in place. You want to see movement? Wow! I’ve sure got it! My partner ZANZIBAR is ready, too. We didn't even have to practice!”

Finally, NOZZLE was in his chair on top of the pile, and all the Friends were in their seats. ZANZIBAR was standing about halfway up the pile with some little, white stones at his feet. The familiar sound of swift moving, silver wings told everyone that WHIZZY was on his way.

ZANZIBAR kicked a white stone and it fell down on the drum. When it hit there was a noise that sounded like ‘Thonk’. WHIZZY stopped in mid-air. ZANZIBAR kicked another white stone and when it hit, ‘Thonk’, WHIZZY shot sideways until another stone, ‘Thonk’, stopped him again. ZANZIBAR was kicking faster and faster— ‘Thonk’, and ‘Thonk’. As each little stone hit the drum, WHIZZY went in a different direction. It was hard to follow with just  one  stone at a time, but now ZANZIBAR was aiming and kicking two stones at a time. They hit the drum very closely together, and still WHIZZY was able to move—stop, and move.

NOZZLE began clapping, and everybody joined in. ZANZIBAR kicked three stones and WHIZZY moved three times--this was impossible, but it was happening. WHIZZY was even controlling it  so that he rose higher, and higher as his short movements followed the ‘Thonks’. At the end, the kicking was not even controlled. ZANZIBAR was just kicking stones as fast as he could, and WHIZZY was jumping in all directions, up in the air, until  he disappeared in the low clouds.

Everybody in the audience was just too tired to do anything but shake their heads in wonder! What a demonstration of the impossible. Who could be bored?

Now, there was only one demonstrator left to get organized, and that was KATE, the old catfish, who lived most of the time at the bottom of the Pond and might not want to be bothered with the BOING Festival. She was not coming to see them, so CLUMP decided that he had better go down to the deepest part of the Pond and find her. He picked some ripe berries, still attached to their twigs, wrapped them in a big, green leaf and stepped into the Pond and sank to the bottom.

He handed her the green leaf full of berries, and said, “ Well, here we are, just the two of us, down in the bottom of the Pond. Don't you ever get lonely?”

“Yes, I suppose I do. It’s  not much fun, but it is my home, and I guess    I sleep a lot.” KATE replied.

“Do you ever get bored?” CLUMP asked.

“To tell the truth, I have to admit, I’m always bored.” she said quietly. “But, you know, when I was very young, I was thin and fast, and excited to do things. As young fish, we never knew what  bored  meant. I wish I were young, again,” said KATE, with a sad look.

CLUMP replied, “KATE, you can’t be young again, but you can think young. You can pretend young, and, in a way, you  will  almost  be young again--at the very least, you will never be  bored!”

CLUMP jumped up, and explained, “ We had a meeting. NOZZLE was in charge and everyone said they were bored. So we decided that each Friend of Our Pond would make a ‘fun’ demonstration of a way of getting over boredom. In the case of those animals that normally swim, like you, they would show how they could fly.”

“Fly? Look at me!” KATE exclaimed. “I am big, and long, and very  fat. Only the water can hold me up. I  have  no  wings--I‘ve  never  ‘flown’ anywhere except when I was young, I could  jump  up  and  knock down ripe berries,  sometimes.”

“OK!” CLUMP exclaimed. “The rules say you don't have to do it all alone. You can get help from anyone in Our Pond Family!”

“Oh, I see. H-m-m-m, I can get help. That is interesting,” she told him, as she flipped her huge tail and  shot  into  the  water  over  his  head. She looked  back at him,  and said with a laugh, “You never thought I could do that, did you"?”

CLUMP was astonished, and then he said, “Yes, yes--and in that quick moment when you did that big jump, you were thinking young.” In all the years he had known KATE, he had never seen her move like that!

“ When I was young, there was a waterfall that  we  could  practice  going up. Of course, it was not flying, but it  almost  was--and  we  would pretend we were flying. We were thinking young.” said KATE, thoughtfully.

She smiled a big smile, with her wide  lips,  and  said,  “Oh,  I  have some good ideas, and you will be the first Friend to help me. I will tell you, in secret, what I need, and when I can  come  and  practice.  You  are known to be a great organizer, so you can  organize this  for  me, and we  will be the water  team.”

CLUMP nodded that he understood, and would help her. They discussed the details of the project for about an hour, and KATE even shared a few of her berries with him before CLUMP started up to the surface. He was thinking about the things he had  to do. He  had to smile to himself as he went along--KATE was the most bored member of the Friends of Our Pond and she was  the most boring,  but they were already getting ready to fix all that!

When KATE, the fat, old catfish, told CLUMP that she would do a performance, nobody got very excited. With her long hours alone on the bottom of the Pond, she must be the most bored of all of them, and, more certainly, the most boring. To be fair, the Friends of Our Pond did remember she had come out to help the Community on several important occasions, but, now, most of what she did was looking for food and lying around--so nobody expected very much from her performance. KATE had asked for two weeks to practice. They thought that seemed foolish . . . what could she be practicing?

NOZZLE called a General Meeting on the afternoon before KATE's demonstration. He wanted to tell all the Friends that,  right after KATE was finished, there was going to be a wonderful Parade--so they could all wear the costumes they had worn during their presentations.

TWITTER had composed a beautiful Parade Song, and everyone would sing along with her during the parade! The guest of honor would be BOING. It was a way of showing thanks for her ideas, and welcoming her, and her children, HIDE and RIDE, as they became Friends of Our Pond.

The next morning there were some low hanging clouds, but it did not look like rain, as all the Friends of Our Pond assembled waiting for the presentation by KATE, known as the fat, old catfish. SHARD, their big, bird Friend, was missing, and JAZZ was still somewhere fixing something.

Nothing was happening. Then, there was a strange noise. All heads turned to see what it was. On the right-hand side, just below the clouds, there was a huge thing flapping along, as if it were flying. It had great, long wings, but you could see, even from a distance, the ‘wings’ were made of dried leaves that had been sewn together. It also had a big ‘tail’ that was made up of layers of leaves that had  also been attached together with reed strings. There seemed to be a wooden bucket, with some big, wide lips sticking out, hanging from the front end. The lips were clamped onto a reed rope coming down through the clouds overhead. The rope looked like something JAZZ might make. Wait, wait! The presentation that they had  been  waiting for was right there in front of them! The top of the bucket had a face sticking out of it. It was KATE, and her  mouth was holding the string, that was pulling her along, that went up through the clouds!

First, it was ZANZIBAR who started to laugh. He did not want  to hurt anyone's feelings, but he could not help himself. The flapping, flying thing was just too ridiculous. Pretty soon everyone was laughing. It was fun! They knew it must be KATE, and they knew that she was holding onto the reed rope that must be attached to SHARD. He was the only one who could possibly drag KATE, and that huge, flapping mass of leaves and strings higher, and higher, towards the clouds. The white clouds covered the ‘flying’ KATE, and she was gone. The sky was empty, but only for a few  minutes.

Everyone thought KATE's demonstration was over. It had been very good. She made them all laugh. It had been fun. They thought it was over, and they were going to have the Festival Parade. But, it was far from over!

There was a swishing sound high up in the clouds. There was a  huge, long, brown fish swirling in the air, as  it  plunged  towards them at great  speed.  It was not the fat, old,  sleepy catfish they all knew! It was a new KATE. She was waving at them with her fins. Then, she started to laugh--shrieking peals of delighted,  overwhelming laughter. No reed rope in her mouth holding her up, but free-falling all by herself. She had defeated boredom! She fell, sliding into the water with hardly a splash, and turned, suddenly to the right, and then to the left,  and, finally, she actually jumped  out  of the water, and was briefly in the air, before she made a big belly- flop on the surface that sent water around everywhere. Her demonstration was over!

NOZZLE slid down the dirt hill from his chair, splashed across the Pond to find her, and held her up in his powerful arms so all could see a real winner! She would never live her sad life in the bottom of the Pond again.

By this time, all the Friends of Our Pond were either in the Pond, in the air, or running around the edge, clapping and   cheering.

There was a ‘Boing, Boing, Boing’ sound, and the new Friends of Our  Pond  arrived  with  HIDE  and  RIDE  waving  from  their  mother’s pouch.

It took some time, but TWITTER began to sing, and that meant the Parade should get started--so it did.

And, there was no boredom anywhere.