The Happy Pond

Once upon a springtime long ago, there lived a pretty pond, playful and full of life. She was very young and so was much of the life around her. The buds of a willow tree’s branches touched down and lightly tickled the pond, making ripples in the murky water. Pairings of maple seeds twirled and landed gracefully on the edge of the pond, making little cliques here and there like ballerinas on a stage.

Tadpoles made the pond their first home. Turtles and salamanders were hatched in the warm waters. And children came there, too, to play and laugh, and to sing the songs that children do when they are innocent and free.

Springtime’s showers sang their pitter-patter songs upon the surface of the pond, and the children gathered there in their rubber boots to splash about.

The pond did not mind at all, for she loved the children dearly and wanted them nearby. When summer came and the rains ended, the children frolicked in bare feet, and sat in the tall grasses along the pond’s edge, and told stories and skipped stones, and the pond was never happier.

She listened to their stories and their songs, learning a great deal about the world . She learned about fairies and angels and other enchanted beings. She learned about mommy’s secret for pumpernickel bread and Uncle Jacob’s cabin in the woods. All these things and more the pond heard, and kept in her heart and memory.

When autumn came, the children still played there and whispered secrets. They told of teachers loved and cherished, of hopscotch and cat-and-mouse and other new games they had learned. In fact, school sounded like such a wonderful place, the pond wished she could be with the children there, and never have to wait until the midday sun had passed before seeing them. So by winter’s first snow her heart was heavy with desire for a place closer to the children’s playground.

Although they often slid and skated on the frozen water, they came less often in the colder months, leaving the pond to spend much of her time thinking of seasons that passed before.

When the last snow had melted, the children once more came to play, and the pond was happy again.

But then something new happened. Five days passed without rain, and that was strange for springtime.

Ten more days passed, and the children saw what the pond did not - that it was getting smaller. But they gathered sticks anyway, and followed baby turtles, and told their stories on the rocks at the edge of the pond.

Thirteen days passed, and then a whole month, without so much as a sprinkle of rain. With each passing day, as the sun’s heat warmed the ground, and the pond grew smaller and smaller, and the children visits grew fewer and fewer until there was little more than a puddle left and nothing more for them to do.

What had happened was this: Every day that passed without rain, the sun's heat grew stronger, lifting each little drop of the pond up and up, higher and higher into the sky, until one day no drops remained at all. Left in her place was nothing but rocks and sticks and sand.

The grasses died and flowers shriveled, too. The toads left to find another home -- lakes and rivers that were more grown up and ponds that never ran dry.

Above this barren place the pond had been lifted, its body divided into thousands of drops of water that formed a small white cloud.

When the children came for their last spring time play, they found nothing of the pond. They hung their heads low and wept. Hand in hand, they comforted one another, each vowing never to forget the beautiful pond and all the happy times they had.

Now, when the Sun heard the children’s cries and pulled their fallen teardrops to the skies, he knew there was something he must do. So he called forth all, every cloud nearby, and told them what he had heard. This made the little cloud sad and his white fluff turned gray, as did the fluff of all the clouds, young and old.

So the sun gave the clouds a push and they moved slowly across the sky. When the little gray cloud found itself near the children's school, and watched them on the playground, she became so sad, she cried.

She cried so much that she fell down onto the earth, drop by drop, until there was no cloud left at all. To her surprise, she had cried herself into a pond again.

When school was through and the children were dismissed, they were surprised and delighted to find the little pond once more and said “It is just as the other one we had!” Better, they agreed, for they would have it near them all year long and watch it from their seats beside the windows when the classes were in session.

And so the children came once again to the pond every day, even more, for when the afternoon bell rang, the children were allowed to play outside. And where did they go? To the pond, of course! And there they sang songs, whispered secrets, ate their lunch and made pretty little rippled with skipping stones. And the pond was happy as ever she was and thanked the Sun so pleasantly that never again did the Sun allow the pond to dry, but let it live on forever as youthful as she always was.

The End