Except for WHIZZY, the dragonfly, TWITTER, the little, red bird, was the smallest member of all the Friends of Our Pond. She also seemed to be the happiest.
Not only was she happy, but she also made everyone else happy! She sang her beautiful songs every day! SALLY, the little, green snake, lying curled around a warm rock in the sun, or SNAG, the beaver, cutting wooden beams with his sharp teeth, or JAZZ, the retired circus monkey, weaving grass mats for his friends, were often surrounded by her music.
She lived in a tiny nest in the old, pine tree. She was full of energy. As long as the sun was up, she was flying around everywhere, and she was singing. When night came, she would sing one last, very warm, kind song and all the friends would know it was time for some sleep.
But, something important was about to happen.
It was the middle of the night. There was no wind. Everything was dark, and it was very quiet. TWITTER was in her nest, fast asleep, with her beak tucked under her wing. Suddenly, there was a whistling sound, and some big object hit the very top of the tree and started to slide down through the branches. A shower of pine needles sprinkled all over TWITTER, and she woke up wondering what was happening. This big ‘something’ continued to crash down through the branches until it arrived with a heavy thump right beside her nest. Whatever it was, it just lay there and did not move.
Although she was very small, TWITTER was not timid. She fluttered her wings, and skipped over to see what had arrived. She could see right away that it looked like some sort of big bird--it was absolutely enormous! It was a hundred times bigger than she was, and not very pretty. It was lying on its back with its wings all crumpled up. Its eyes were closed and its huge beak was stretched halfway open. Its great, long legs were sticking straight up in the air attached to the biggest bird feet she'd ever seen! TWITTER was always very quick, and she knew she could get away if this big ‘thing’ suddenly moved. She did not waste much time just looking at it. She knew what she had to do.
The General Rule around the Pond was that if anyone got hurt and needed help, the first thing to do was to bring them some ripe berries. TWITTER did not hesitate. She flew off to find some. This job was going to take a lot of time. Just to fill that giant beak once would take about five trips to the berry bushes. The half-open beak was twice as big as she was. The berries, and her fluttering back and forth did work, however. After four trips, one big eye slowly opened, and the jumbo bird went ‘Bleep’. It still did not move much, and TWITTER knew she would have to go back for more berries. The sun was coming up, and it was getting warmer. The long legs with their big feet were still up in the air, but they were starting to wave around a bit as the big bird got stronger. It was swallowing the berries as soon as TWITTER popped them in his beak. Both eyes were now open, so she thought it was about time she said ‘Hello’--so she did. Then she said, “ What is your name, and where are you from?" The big bird said, “Bleep”, and went to sleep.
TWITTER decided she wouldn't say anything to anybody until she knew more about this giant bird--so, she swooped down towards the Pond to sing a song. That evening, before she went to sleep, she brought him some more berries--which he ate rather more quickly.
The next morning, she found it crouched on its legs looking at her. That was some progress--at least it was right side up! She sat there looking at it, and it sat there looking back. Neither one of them did anything! TWITTER decided to do what she always did when things were just too quiet--she sang a song.
Immediately, she got a reaction. The huge bird was smiling and tapping its foot in time with the music. It looked really happy. Just at that moment, ZANZIBAR, the flying squirrel, who lived not far away, heard TWITTER's happy song and wondered what was going on. He was really shocked when he saw the giant visitor crouched on the branch, nodding its head and tapping with one foot. ZANZIBAR asked, “ What is your name, and where do you come from?"
The big bird was trying to reply, but was having a hard time speaking. "Sorry," it said, "I have not said anything in a long time.”
He paused and tried again, “ My name is SHARD. I can't talk very well right now because I have not spoken at all for at least two months.”
TWITTER quickly asked, “Don't you have any friends?"
SHARD’s strange answer was, “I have been flying by myself, high in the clouds, for thousands of miles. That is the kind of bird I am. I am very lonely. With these great wings I fly over the ocean and mountains for several months at a time. It is my nature to do this and I don't really know why. One thing I'm sure of, I am looking for some friends, and you two seem to be the best possibility right now. Thank you for being so welcoming!”
“Please move out of the way and I will try to stand up." He staggered and flopped around a bit before he got complete control of all his parts. He finally was standing there on his own two feet, looking down at them. “You probably can see that I'm not in very good shape right now. I have heard you talking with your friends, down by the Pond, and I am sure they all wonder what is going on up here. I will meet your friends later, but could we keep this sort of secret until I’m better?”
TWITTER hopped around, and started another little song of welcome, while ZANZIBAR nodded his head and said, “Yes, of course."
TWITTER and ZANZIBAR kept their word and never said anything about SHARD--even when several Pond members said they heard strange noises coming from the very top of the tree. Of course, one day WHIZZY flashed by on his silver wings and actually saw the giant bird doing simple exercises on the treetop. He knew immediately that this was meant to be a secret. He did not even have to stop. He just yelled out to ZANZIBAR, “I say nothing,” and continued on his speedy way.
As SHARD became stronger and stronger, he would do his exercises and talk a lot with TWITTER. He loved it when she sang, and was always waiting for the next happy song. One day she said to him, “I like the way you tap along when I'm singing. Why don't you practice a song and sing with me?”
He was embarrassed and said he'd never done anything like that. She asked, “ What do you do when you are flying along up there all alone? You like music. Why aren't you singing?”
He whispered quietly to her, “I actually do something, but no one has ever heard me.”
TWITTER laughed, flapped both her wings excitedly, and said "We have become such good friends now, and music is the way I make everyone happy. So you should sing to me, and make me happy too!”
SHARD stepped back, took a deep breath and made a deep, deep, humming sound that shook the branches. TWITTER could not believe it? It went on and on, and then it went lower and still lower. She could not control herself--she started to sing along with him. Her high notes, and his low notes blended together. What magic! That was just the first day. Then they started to sing together every day with ZANZIBAR as their audience, and he was happy, too.
In the meantime, NOZZLE, the anteater, had seen how TWITTER's music was making the Pond members happy. He kept thinking back about how music had come into his own life when he was young. His nose had grown very long, very quickly. One day he was playing with some rabbits in a pile of straw and some hayseeds got into his giant nose, and he was trying to blow them out. They were stuck. He reached up with one paw and squeezed his nose while he was blowing it at the same time. A very strong, beautiful sound came out, and even the rabbits didn't know where to run. It was so exciting. He tried using both paws and squeezed his nose in different ways to find out how he could control the sound. He got pretty good at it, and, of course, his nose continued to grow longer-- and so did the music. Unfortunately, many other things came into his life as he grew older, and his time to play music each day just faded away.
NOZZLE had very good ears, and from time to time, when the wind was quiet, he heard some of the new music coming from around TWITTER's nest. It would be a lot of work to get his big body up to the top of the tree to investigate, so he just waited to see what developed.
One day, after TWITTER had sung her evening song and everyone was going to bed, she went to NOZZLE and told him about SHARD. He asked if she would like to introduce him to the Friends of Our Pond at the next meeting. She agreed that this would be a good idea, and flew home to discuss it with ZANZIBAR and SHARD.
The great day finally came! All the Friends of the Pond had heard rumors that strange things were going on at the top of the pine tree. It must be some kind of a secret because even WHIZZY, who flew everywhere every day, would not talk about what he had found at the tiny TWITTER nest. Early, on the morning of the meeting, everyone was out gathering berries to be shared with each other during the festivities.
They all settled in their usual places, with WHIZZY hovering overhead. TWITTER and ZANZIBAR were in their usual place together, also. Everything looked very normal, but this was going to be a big, important day that changed everything for Our Pond Community.
NOZZLE raised his head, and got everyone’s attention. He said, “There is new magic in the air, and it can belong to all of us. There are going to be some surprises, but at the same time there will be nothing new. The magic has always been there, but we have only seen part of it. Now, I would like to turn this program over to our second smallest member. You all know TWITTER, who brings us so much happiness.”
The Pond members started to clap as TWITTER flew over to the rock in the middle of the Pond. Nothing happened. She just stood there, and looked up into the clouded sky. All the Friends looked up, too, but they saw nothing. They were still looking when they heard a sound far, far away. It was a beautiful, humming sound that kept getting louder and louder. Way up in the white clouds, a ‘speck’ was dropping towards them at a very high speed. They had all thought that it was going to be a bird, but whatever was dropping out of the sky did not have any wings. Wow, was it getting loud! It was aimed right at them! Whatever it was looked like it was going to hit them.
Suddenly, it did have huge wings that shot out from its body with a big ‘Bang’! It seemed to stop in midair before extending its long legs and great feet, and landing on the rock beside TWITTER. She put her wingtip down on one of his big feet and said, “This is SHARD. He is my friend . . . he is lonely, and wants to join us. We are going to sing a song for you.”
The humming sound they had heard from the sky began to come out of SHARD's beak in a low tone, and was soon joined by high notes coming from TWITTER. They were singing a duet. Everyone held their breath--it was so beautiful. Then, they began to clap and cheer in their excitement. KATE, the old catfish, raised her head out of the water and shouted, “Oh, yes, we want him as a friend” They all nodded their heads in agreement, and lonely SHARD became a permanent Friend of the Pond.
NOZZLE stood up, got everyone's attention and said, “Now, you have seen the magic that is in each of us. It has always been there, but we have not worked to develop it. We know that it makes us happy, and, still, we do not even imagine what it can do. We all know it. It is called MUSIC. I am guilty, too. When I was young, I discovered something that I will now show you.”
He raised his long nose in the air and gripped it with his two front paws. He waited a moment to be sure everyone could see, took a deep breath, and blew a clear trumpet note from his nose. As he moved his paws up and down his long, round nose, he began to play a tune. TWITTER knew she could sing it, and she joined in. When SHARD added his low hum, as well, they were producing a magic that had never been heard before.
When the song was over, and all the Friends were looking at each other trying to decide what to do, NOZZLE lowered his nose, and said, “ My dear friends, we are all very different. Our bodies are different, but if we wish to make music, each of us can do it. TWITTER was singing a bird song, SHARD was humming in a series of very low notes, and I was blowing my nose like a trumpet—and we made music together. And, it was magic!”
“I want each of you to experiment, and use your imagination to discover a way you can make music.”
Before anyone could say anything else, CLUMP, the toad, announced, “Kerchunk. I know all about it. I never showed anyone, and I only do it when I'm off by myself--but listen to this--and he started to pound on his chest. I am a drummer and I love it, but I always hid it, for fear you would make fun of me. Well, I could even play along with TWITTER and the others.”
ZANZIBAR, the flying squirrel, stood up and said, “I'm a very good friend of TWITTER’s, but I never thought of playing music along with her. I have a very special instrument that I discovered by accident one day as I was swinging from branch to branch, in the tree. Watch this!” He slowly raised his left arm as far as it would go, and then extended his left leg as far down as it would go. This stretched the skin very tight between his arm and leg. With his right hand, he reached over and plucked right in the middle of the stretched skin. The result was a wonderful noise. He started to do it rapidly, and he was playing the sounds of an upright bass. JAZZ jumped up on POSEY's back and sang a song he had learned in the Circus, while she pounded her hooves on the ground in rhythm.
No one could believe it when SALLY, the little, green snake, stretched up from the grass and started to do a wriggling dance, while she kept rhythm with a hiss, hiss, hissing sound.
Not to be forgotten, BUBBLEBATH, the fish, made a long stream of little bubbles, with occasional big, ‘Bang’ bubbles that got everybody dancing.
No one had ever heard him do it before, but SNAG could whistle many different notes through his mouth full of sharp teeth. He was joined by WHIZZY, who made a whole range of ‘Buzzing’ sounds with his silver wings.
KATE, the old catfish, showed how she could hold a pretty good note with her broad mouth, while slapping her big tail in the water for rhythm.
So, this is how the Friends of the Pond made not only a new, good Friend, but, also, how they discovered the Magic of Music--music that they could make alone, or together--old music, that they had done many times before--or brand-new music that no one had ever heard! Sometimes, they just listened, and other times they joined in, and, still other times, they invented a new pleasure that would go on and on for all their lives.
And, this made the Friends of Our Pond very, very happy!