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.