WHIZZY, the silver dragonfly, was buzzing along, high in the sky, over the beautiful, blue Pond that was his home. He lived there with a friendly group of animals. They considered WHIZZY their messenger. He zoomed around on his magnificent, silver wings telling each of them what was going on. Even though they were all very different, they acted like a family, and learned to work together. There had been a big problem when a huge storm plugged up the stream that brought water to the pond. It had not been easy, but they had all cooperated to solve that problem, and the water had begun to flow again. They were so happy. They all jumped, and danced, and splashed around with joy. They called it Our Pond, and they loved it very much.
It was a beautiful day. WHIZZY had been dashing around, in the clouds, for most of the morning, and he was getting tired. He decided to drift down over the high trees, in the old forest, next to the Pond, and find a place to rest. There was a nice twig sticking out of the top of a tall, pine tree. He grabbed it, shook his wings and was just about to settle down for a little nap when he felt a movement. The twig seemed to be trembling. No! It was not just the twig, the whole tree was falling down! He gave a short ‘Tweet’, and jumped into the air. There he was safe. He just hovered there, like dragonflies do, and looked around. What a strange sight!
There were piles of wood chips all over the ground, and some good- sized trees had recently been cut down. The tree on which he had been sitting had only fallen about halfway down, and was leaning up against another tree. Dragonflies have very good eyes, and they think very quickly. WHIZZY immediately saw that something dangerous was going to happen. There was a brown animal he had never seen before sleeping on some wood chips on the ground, under the falling tree. Dragonflies also know a lot about the wind. WHIZZY had just felt a soft puff of wind and knew immediately that bigger puffs were coming. The brown animal was right under the swaying limbs of the half-fallen tree. Dragonflies are very fast. WHIZZY flew down at full speed and buried his sharp nose into the shoulder of the sleeping brown animal. “Ouch,” screamed the animal, as he jumped up and stumbled away from the falling tree trunk. It just missed him!
When the dust settled, it left a hairy, brown animal with a huge mouth full of white teeth, and a silver bug with trembling wings, staring at each other. The animal seemed to understand what had happened. He immediately said, “ My name is SNAGGLENUT. I am a beaver. My friends call me SNAG. I am very grateful. You saved my life. I should not have been sleeping where you found me, but I suppose I was just too tired from all the chipping and chewing as I got those trees down. If ever I can be of help to you, just let me know!” He turned and started chipping the small branches off the big, tree stumps.
“ Wait, wait, why are you doing all this work?” asked WHIZZY.
SNAGGLENUT continued his speedy chipping. When he stopped to take a breath, he said, “For some reason, that small stream over there has become very much deeper. Now, I am building a house there, in the water, for my family.”
WHIZZY became very excited. “Yes, yes! I know all about the deeper water. We did it--we unplugged it and there's more water everywhere now,” shouted WHIZZY. This made a very friendly SNAG very interested in everything WHIZZY explained. They sat on the log together for a while until WHIZZY realized he had to fly home to Our Pond before dark. Unfortunately, SNAG could not help but show his powerful white teeth as he smiled goodbye. WHIZZY flew home at super-speed, thinking to himself, ‘I’m sure glad he's my friend, dear old SNAG . . . Wow, those teeth!’
NOZZLE, the big, gigantic, African anteater, had been accepted as the Our Pond leader ever since the day he and JAZZ, the retired circus monkey, had arrived at the stagnant pond and offered to be of help. Any time there were problems, or something had to be fixed, NOZZLE would call a meeting and all the Friends would be sure to come. Now, he had called an important meeting and they were all there. The Friends of Our Pond knew each other very well and liked to discuss almost anything, anytime. Each had a place to sit depending on if they liked branches, or grass, or even floating around in the water. WHIZZY normally hovered in the air, above everyone, and made sure everybody had heard everything.
NOZZLE waited until they all were quiet. He made a practice of looking everyone in the eye before he began speaking. “You will remember, just a short time ago, how hard we worked to save Our Pond and make this a happy place. We did a good job, and splashed around with joy. Now, I see sad faces everywhere! A terrible mood has overtaken us. Today we must find out what has made us unhappy. Then, we will make a plan and we will fix it. Feel free to say exactly what is bothering you. Who will talk first?” he asked quietly.
SALLY, the slippery, green snake, who had thought people didn't like her because she was a snake, was now a Friend to everyone. That was because she had worked so hard to help fix the water problem. She slithered over onto a mound of sand, raised her head and said, “I used to enjoy lying on a warm rock, near the water, in the sun. Not only am I more comfortable in the sun, the actual heat makes my muscles work better and I can move faster, and I can think more quickly. Now, the water is very cold. There is so much of it, and it splashes all over everything. It is not just a matter of comfort--my whole body slows down, and I am frightened. I believe all snakes need warmth to be happy!”
Everyone was nodding--‘Yes, SALLY, you should have a warm place.’
CLUMP, the giant toad, slowly raised his head and said, “Kerchunk”--the sound he always made before and after anything he said. In this particular case, he was very agitated. This was a surprise to everyone because normally he was slow, and not too sure of what he wanted to say. “Kerchunk, Kerchunk, Kerchunk”--he needed everyone's attention. He wanted to show how important his problem was! Finally, he leaned backwards and announced in a very deep voice, “Look at my chest. It’s all bruised. Look at this part here. It is all bloody, very bloody, and it hurts. We did this to ourselves. We got so much water and it’s moving so fast that no one is safe down there. I cannot possibly do my important studies, or take my measurements in the deep parts, without getting wounded!” CLUMP was obviously overcome by the horrible nature of his complaint, so he just gathered his strength and emitted one final “Kerchunk”, which indicated he was finished.
BUBBLEBATH was a large fish with a great stomach, and big, fat lips. He always looked like he was full of air. The truth was he needed the air because he was blowing bubbles all the time! He blew little ones in a stream, and big ones--and huge ones that scared everybody! Just bubbles--bubbles constantly . . . yes, all the time!
It was BUBBLEBATH's turn to speak. He swam to the middle of the Pond and looked like he was getting ready to say something, but he kept looking around trying to find the words. Instead, he blew a string of little bubbles followed by a big one that made a loud ‘Bang’. He seemed to get his courage up and began to speak in a low serious voice, “The main thing I do in life is to imagine beautiful bubbles! Then I blow them.” He looked around to see if everyone agreed. They mostly seemed surprised, as they had never thought of it that way. “I make little ones--one after the other to make a pretty pattern on the water, or I blow huge ones that go ‘Bang’ and produce a sort of music. Now, with all this new water rushing around there is no place for my quiet bubbles anywhere! My art is destroyed. Please let us fix Our Pond so I can be an artist again, and give you all that beauty.” His friends looked at him with sympathy in their eyes, and understood something they had never known before. Everyone was very quiet as BUBBLEBATH swam slowly away leaving a little trail of confused bubbles.
TWITTER, the little, red bird that always sang happy songs, hopped over and perched beside her best friend, ZANZIBAR, the clever, flying squirrel. She waved her wingtip so that he would know when to start, and they began singing. At least, it looked like they were singing, but none of the Friends could hear anything but the rush of water in the Pond. They expected a happy song because TWITTER always sang happy songs, but they couldn't hear anything. ZANZIBAR raised his head up higher, and announced, “That is the problem, with all this water banging around, it is just too noisy for anything. That noise is destroying our fun together."
Everyone started nodding, ‘Yes, if you thought about it, it was just too noisy’!
NOZZLE and JAZZ looked at each other, and saw sad faces. They realized that, as responsible leaders, the sadness of any of the Our Pond Friends was also their sadness.
NOZZLE stood again, nodded his head, and said, “ We understand why there is sadness, and we have agreed that the problem is we have too much water. We understand that the water in Our Pond has become very strong, but we are still too weak to control it! We must study the situation and look for help.”
NOZZLE went looking for SALLY, the snake, and CLUMP, the toad. He had a very important and difficult job for them. It might even turn out to be dangerous! Oh, there they were by the Pond, sadly looking at the water streaming by. NOZZLE quickly explained the project. He wanted them to go down carefully and take measurements of the hole where the water was coming into the bottom of the Pond. Then, they were to come out and draw the results of their study in the sand. “ Work together and take no chances, we do not want you to get hurt,” said NOZZLE, as he walked off to have a private think about the matter.
First, NOZZLE had to collect some berries, and find a soft, shaded nest of grass where he could lie down and think. He let his mind wander around a bit. They had done the right thing to get water when the Pond was stagnant and the flow was completely plugged up. It would not make any sense to go back and completely plug off all the new water coming in. They did not want it to be like it used to be with no fresh water at all. This meant they had to have some way of controlling the water flow. They had to have something like a little door that you could open or close, or a plug that you could put in and take out. That was a nice idea, but they were too weak to do it. NOZZLE decided the only thing he could do would be to keep his eyes open, and his imagination active.
In the meantime, JAZZ, the monkey, had walked a long way out on a flat countryside that he found unfamiliar. He glanced up at the sky and noticed some big, black birds circling round and round, over the same spot. They were not going away, and they were not coming closer--just going round and round. In his experience, JAZZ knew that circling birds often meant trouble for some poor animal on the ground. As he got closer, he could see there was some big animal lying on its side, in the sand. The animal’s eyes were closed, but suddenly its head came up and there was a weak snort. The animal was even trying to stand up, but it could not! As JAZZ ran over at top speed, he was having impossible thoughts! ‘Do I know this poor animal? Is it an old friend of mine? It looks just like the pony I knew. Did we once work in the same circus together? Could this possibly be POSEY, the chariot race pony, I used to ride? She would be old now, but this still looks like her. When she was young and strong, we used to win a lot of chariot races around the center ring in the circus. Will she know me? I do hope it is her, and that I can be of help. She was so much fun.’
JAZZ was very smart. He did not run directly over to see the fallen animal. He scampered up the nearest big tree to look for tall grass, which would indicate a stream. He was lucky, not only was there water, there was a palm tree with big leaves which could be folded into a saucer for carrying water. Maybe that is where the animal was headed when she fell down. Oh, yes, it was POSEY, and she was terribly thirsty. He had to carry water from the stream five times before she had enough. His next job was to bring over armloads of soft, green grass to feed her.
What a wonderful moment when she opened her eyes completely and recognized JAZZ as an old friend. He continued feeding her grass for quite a while before he knew it was time to try and get her up on her feet. He was too small to be of much help but he did position her feet in the sand so the lifting would be as easy as possible. He bent and pressed his small back under her neck and chest in a crouched position, and began to push her up as he shouted for her to stand. As she started to struggle, he had to jump back to avoid the flying hooves, but the risk was worth it. She got her front end up, and then, with a great lunge, she was up on all four feet, shaking her mane in his eyes. He put loving arms around her neck, and kissed her soft nose--remembering the many times he had done just that when POSEY and he had won a chariot race.
POSEY was still pretty weak, but the water and grass were making her stronger. JAZZ led her over to some trees for shade. Now, he needed some real help from his friends. He explained this to her and said he would be back with help as soon as possible. She understood and began to nibble at the grass.
JAZZ took a deep breath and started to trot back towards the Pond, but, of course, high in sky overhead, someone was already looking for him. It was WHIZZY! He dived down, out of the clouds, with a tiny branch of ripe berries in his beak. At fairly high speed, without even stopping, he dropped the berries on top of JAZZ's head and shouted, “I will find NOZZLE,” as he shot off.
JAZZ was so proud to introduce POSEY to NOZZLE. The two biggest of all the animals immediately became friends. POSEY explained that she had been living in an old barn full of hay, and only left it when the food ran out. Now, she was not sure where the barn was. WHIZZY immediately said, “Don't worry. I've seen it many times from the air. I can lead you there.”
JAZZ was surprised and excited when they found the barn, and the old chariot was inside, with all kinds of leather strapping. Back at the Pond, word had gotten around very quickly that JAZZ had rescued an old, pony friend from the Circus, named POSEY. As soon as she was strong enough, she was coming back to live with them by the Pond. Everyone was very excited and could not wait to see her and have her become a member of the Our Pond Friends.
The arrival of POSEY, walking beside her old chariot with JAZZ, riding inside, holding a pile of ancient leather ropes, was a little disappointing. NOZZLE was pulling the chariot all by himself and he looked really tired. Of course, the Welcoming Committee by the Pond wanted to be kind, so they clapped and cheered anyway.
JAZZ went over and pulled some of the pine tree limbs lower to make a shelter for POSEY. Sadly, the old pony could only walk over and lean up against the tree. All of the Our Pond Friends just looked the other way--they did not want to embarrass the poor pony who could not even hold her head up. It was going to take a couple of weeks, with plenty of hay and soft grasses, for POSEY to get her entire strength back.
Then, early one morning, everyone was awakened by the galloping hoofbeats of a swift pony pulling her chariot. It was the color red, which JAZZ, the monkey, had painted with raspberries. POSEY was well at last!
With POSEY getting better, and all the excitement around the Pond, WHIZZY had not found a chance to explain to NOZZLE all about SNAG, the beaver, who was building a house in the water. One evening, when NOZZLE was taking a little swim, and WHIZZY was seated comfortably on his lily pad, WHIZZY suddenly said, “I met this friendly animal on one of my flights. He is building a house for his family, in the middle of the stream, just down the hill.”
NOZZLE was not paying much attention until WHIZZY added, “ He was cutting down these giant trees to get the wood for the house. He almost had a bad accident, but I helped him.”
“ What do you mean ‘trees’?” asked NOZZLE.
“ Well, he has big teeth--really huge teeth. You never saw so big, and so many,” said WHIZZY.
NOZZLE suddenly swirled in the water, pointed his sharp ears toward WHIZZY, and said, “Tell me from the beginning. This is an impossible story--an animal cutting down a huge tree with his teeth? This could not be true! You must have misunderstood.”
But WHIZZY continued to insist he was describing exactly what had happened. “SNAG even said I had saved his life, and if ever I needed help he would come. I know he meant it! NOZZLE, you know I would never, never tell you anything that was not true,” whispered WHIZZY.
The very next morning, WHIZZY was flying along, beside NOZZLE’s shoulder, leading him to find SNAG. When NOZZLE saw the big, fat trees lying all around, the piles of wood chips, and a very friendly SNAG greeting them with a tooth-filled smile, he knew immediately a very important thing was happening in the history of Our Pond. NOZZLE wanted JAZZ to be there, too, and sent WHIZZY out to bring him back.
SNAG had never seen an animal like NOZZLE. NOZZLE was strong, and of course, very intelligent, and extremely friendly!
SNAG asked NOZZLE if he wanted to go in the stream and examine the new lodge he was building. NOZZLE said, “Oh, yes. I want to see that, too—but, first, I want you to show me how you can cut down one of those massive trees.”
So, after a couple of minutes of just looking at each other, SNAG turned around and started to chew on a tree. NOZZLE could hardly believe it! Chips were flying everywhere, and the chopping noise was very loud. It did not take long before there was a crashing sound and the tree came down. NOZZLE wanted to see how sharp the cut was between the two pieces of wood, so he trotted over, stuck his nose under the log and flipped it up so he could see the other side. SNAG was very impressed with the strength that NOZZLE showed. They became friends at that very moment.
JAZZ had been picking berries on his walk. When he arrived, he had a big palm leaf full of them—enough so that they could all sit for awhile and share them. SNAG finally invited his visitors to go down and have a look at the lodge.
JAZZ and WHIZZY thought that they couldn’t go into the deep water until SNAG told them that the lodge had dry rooms inside, without water, where they could breathe. They all dived in.
NOZZLE immediately saw that the water was flowing too hard and fast, and no visitor made it to any of the so-called ‘dry rooms’. SNAG did try to lead the way. He sure knew how to swim, but all the rest of them were zooming up and down and being smashed against the walls. The visit was very short. The unimaginable water current was just too strong. They crawled out of the water and lay panting on the grass.
NOZZLE wasted no time in saying to SNAG, “ We must work together because you have exactly the same problem that we have. The water in the new stream has too strong a current for you. If you plan to put your children in that lodge—as big as I am, if I can be swept away as I was—the power of that water is going to be too great for your family!”
SNAG hung his head, and whispered, “I just didn’t realize how strong the water current could be. I see it now, and I agree we must all work together because we have too much water!”
As soon as they got home, NOZZLE told WHIZZY to spread the word that there would be an important meeting of the Our Pond Friends the next morning. “Tell them that POSEY and SNAG will be introduced and invited to become permanent members of Our Family. Remind everyone not to step on the drawings in the sand!”
The sun came up, and NOZZLE was ready. He welcomed everyone before saying, in a very serious voice, “Friends, you will remember that we all joined together to open the flow of freshwater into Our Pond, when it was blocked. We now find that the flow is causing a big problem for us, and our neighbors.”
“Please meet our new Friend, SNAG. He is a neighbor downstream from us, and he’s having a terrible problem with too much water. He wants to help us slow the water stream. He is a beaver, and has an amazing skill. SNAG, would you please stand up and show everyone your teeth?”
SNAG smiled and opened his mouth wide. Everyone was amazed. None of them had ever seen such teeth--so long, so big—and so white and sharp!
KATE, the old catfish, pushed a chunk of log across the Pond toward SNAG, who jumped on and started to chew it. Little chips were flying everywhere, and, in a few moments, the log was cut in half. All the animals were cheering and clapping.
NOZZLE waited a moment until everyone had settled down, and then, he started to explain, “The new problem is we do not want to stop the water—we want to slow the water down. Now, we have a new Friend in SNAG who can help us. I know most of you have met POSEY, the Circus pony, who worked with JAZZ in former chariot races. We even rescued her chariot. It’s going to be very important.” POSEY reared up a little bit, and everyone cheered and clapped for her, as well. Look at it—you see a chariot, but, of course, it can, also, be a wagon to carry heavy things—like a big log.
“If you will, please, look over at the drawing in the sand. You will see that our Friends CLUMP, the toad, and SALLY, the little, green snake, have shown us the hole where too much water is coming in.”
More clapping and cheering.
“And, now, suppose we had a plug shaped to fit the hole, and just a little bit bigger on the other end. We could put this huge plug in the water, float it across the Pond, and point the sharp end at the middle of the water hole. We would need a big weight to push the plug down. Now we have the weight—she’s standing right beside you, and her name is POSEY. She’s a new member of Our Family and wants to help everybody.”
ZANZIBAR, the squirrel, immediately stood up, and said, “ What happens when POSEY swims away? The plug is going to pop up with all that water pressure behind it.”
“ We have thought of that. We will be asking SNAG to carve a big basin in the top end of the plug where we can put stones. The more stones we put in, the more the pointed log will be pushed down, and the more the water flow will be blocked.” explained NOZZLE.
Right away, there was a lot of discussion among the Friends. Some didn’t understand the idea completely, while others were trying to explain it and did not do that very well. POSEY reared up and stamped around for a moment—and everyone cheered and clapped. They were starting to get the idea. Now, they were strong, although most of them were not too sure how it was going to work. POSEY was not that big, but she was heavier than anyone else, and sure was willing to help. Of course, every one of them believed in their leader, NOZZLE--when he came up with a plan, it always worked.
When NOZZLE got their attention, and spoke again, they could see he already had a plan. He said, “If you will please look over at that drawing in the sand, you will see that our Friends, CLUMP, the toad, and SALLY, the little, green snake, have done some difficult and dangerous work in the deepest part of the Pond. They have added stones around the hole where the water is coming in--to make the edges all smooth and even. They have taken measurements, and made us a picture in the sand to show us exactly what the shape of the hole is right now. SNAG will know what to do. He has to make a plug that will exactly fit into that hole.”
Oh, yes . . . oh, yes—everyone was so excited! Pretty soon some splashing broke out, and there was general confusion—until ZANZIBAR, the flying squirrel, swung up on his favorite low branch, and shouted, “ Wait, wait—I more or less understand about the plug, but what happens when we let go of it? Wood floats, doesn’t it? As soon as we let go of the plug, it’s going to come floating up and out of the hole.”
“Ah, dear Friends, you did not let me finish,” said NOZZLE. “On the top end of this plug SNAG is going to make us a nice, big basin where we can pile rocks, one by one, to weigh the plug down until we get the water flow exactly as we want it. That will also keep it from floating back up. JAZZ will supervise and make sure all that is done with care.”
Then SNAG stood up, and said, “I am sure I can chew away and get the work done, but how are we going to get it into the chariot?”
“Oh, that's easy,” said NOZZLE, with a smile. “First, SNAG, you will find the tree that you need, and cut it down. Then, you will carve the plug shape, as much as possible with the tree on the ground.”
“I am a good digger, and I will make a little road for the chariot. Then, I will slant my road down, deeper and deeper under the log, with the carved plug at one end. POSEY will come, with her chariot, and back it down my little road until the chariot is just under the plug.”
“Then, you, SNAG will chew and chew, until you chop the plug off from the tree. It will fall into the chariot. You will still have plenty of time to make the plug perfect, and chew away the basin for the rocks, on the top.”
“In the meantime, while all this hard work is being done, those who can swim must clean the pool. Those who can fly must pick up all the trash around the Pond, and all of those who can pick berries must collect as many as possible for the Celebration Day when the plug will be put in place. Now, we will ask TWITTER to sing her evening song, and let us get some sleep for the hard work we have to do in the morning in the morning.”
Everyone got up and started to work early the next day. As time went by, the plan turned out to be very good. There were some delays--like when SNAG got a toothache--but he bravely got back to work in just two days. And, then, the sides of NOZZLE’s little pathway collapsed several times before he got it deep enough to get POSEY and her chariot exactly under the plug. But the work never stopped.
Finally, the big day came! POSEY had practiced her swimming, and CLUMP had gone down, under the water, almost every day, and checked where the plug was to fit. Sometimes, he met SNAG down there, as well, making sure his carving was perfect.
Everyone was around the Pond on that very sunny day--flapping and making all their favorite sounds. They could hear POSEY snorting and stamping about, as she hauled the chariot into view with its finished plug. JAZZ and NOZZLE, mostly NOZZLE, and a sideways push from POSEY's strong neck, dumped the plug into the Pond where everyone could admire it. JAZZ had a whole pile of carefully polished stones ready for the basin. But no one had thought about how they were going to get the stones into the basin all at one time--to balance the plug!
The brave pony jumped into the Pond, and splashed everybody. She swam over, pushing the plug along, but she had a terrible time getting the point aimed at the hole. The rushing water pushed the point away--again and again. CLUMP was able to help. He went down, held onto the rim with his front leg, and aimed the point. POSEY could almost hold the plug in place, but the water was just too deep, and she had to come up to take a breath. NOZZLE tried to help, but he breathed air, too, and could not stay down long enough for JAZZ to get his stones in the basin. They all struggled with it for about an hour. Then, who should arrive but KATE, the fat, old catfish. She took one look, and said, “I can help you.”
There was a lot of splashing, and some laughter, but finally KATE got her heavy body draped around the top of the rim of the basin, and the plug sank safely into the hole. The rush of water slowed
more and more. Wonderful! She was so happy to, at last, be a part of the group, and a helper. She raised her dripping head, briefly, out of the water, and said, “I will do this any time you need me.” Then, she plunged her head back into the water--so she could breathe!
As they all relaxed around their beautiful Pond, NOZZLE rose, once again, and recapped all that had happened. “ We had a problem. We needed help--clever help and strong help--to fix it.”
“I had the good fortune of meeting SNAG, the beaver. Without knowing how much help he would give us, WHIZZY, the smallest member of Our Pond Family, had risked his life and saved SNAG from a falling tree. Then, WHIZZY admitted that we had, in fact, caused the “too much water” problem. We asked for SNAG's help, and he gladly agreed, and got to work immediately. Now, he has joined our Family.”
“Then, when JAZZ saw the circling birds, he suspected a problem-- and set out to see if there was an animal in trouble. First, he found a fallen pony--not knowing it was his old friend, POSEY. He worked and worked to make her healthy. When he realized it was POSEY, he loved her, as he always had since their chariot races in the Circus. She came to be the big animal we needed to make us strong. Now, she is, also, a member of Our Family.”
“Now, we have two new Friends in Our Pond Family, and no more problems!”
TWITTER, the second smallest member of the Our Pond Family, jumped up on ZANZIBAR's back and sang the Our Pond Tune beside the now calm pond, and all the Friends went off happily to their sleeping places.