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Birds of the Rain
by Dahl Clark, June 26, 1996
Once upon a time, long, long ago, there was a land where only birds and animals lived. The air was fresh and free, so free that you could dance in the soft grass under the warming sun and twirl around and around until you became dizzy; but then the grass beneath you would be so soft and snug, all you would want to do would be to let yourself rest down against it. The birds sang so clearly from the faraway trees that the sound was just like the small pipings of flutes carried along by the gentle wafts of wind. The trees rose up so high and tall that if you stood under them, their graceful, curving arms would seem to hold you; even if you were standing far below on the leafy carpet. The ground ran on forever, as far as your eye could see, never stopping until the point came where the faint outline of distant trees met with the calm, blue sky.
In this wonderful land, there was a bird. Now this bird wasn't any ordinary bird. He was a very small bird with dusty brown feathers like those on a feather duster, and he had a small white spot on the end of his tail like a cottonball; yes, he did. All the other birds were almost the same, but he belonged to his mommy and his daddy and lived in the grass, far from the forest, and that made him special. He was really special, because he was the only bird like himself.
That morning, Bird opened his eyes and stretched his wings wide to catch the fresh morning wind. His mommy and daddy had gone out for the morning to get breakfast, so Bird got up on his small, stout feet. He began to tiptoe around the soft, white feathers he slept on when he went to bed in his straw nest last night. All around him were the tall, golden blades of grass, and he looked upward just in time to see the tips of the grass blaze red with the rays of the early morning sun. He knew that soon his mommy and daddy would be back, so he sat down in his nest and began to sing a sweet tune. Would you like to know what he sang? Bird tweeted as he could with his tiny bird's tweet and sang about his mommy and daddy. He knew that somewhere across the great meadow, far away in the forest, they could hear him and come back to tell him how proud of him they were for his song. His tiny song was the best it could be, flowing along as sweet as the wind.
After he finished his song, Bird felt a small itch on his back and turned all the way around so he could scratch it. The straw crackled underneath him as he reached with his pebble-like beak and scratched his baby bird feathers until it felt better. But when he began to turn around, he just happened to catch in the corner of his golden eye something white and very high in the sky.
It stood there almost like a hole in the velvety blue sky, wispy and fringy and round like a ball. Airy it was, pure as the air; rounded, unbounded, not moving much anywhere. From so far above, she called all the way down to him and said, "Hello!"
Bird sat amazed. "Hello to you!"
It was Cloud. Bird had never seen her before, but she was beautiful. She shined white with all the colors of the sun, secretly dancing above Wind's cheerful hands before Bird had seen her. "What are you?"
Bird seemed surprised because he thought everyone knew that he was a bird. "I am a bird," he tweeted in his tiny bird's voice.
Cloud moved down just a tiny bit closer to get a closer look. "What is a bird?"
Dancing around the down-layered nest, holding up his wings, Bird told Cloud, "I am a bird. Birds have two feet and two wings; we live by the grass, we tweet and we sing. If I may ask, where are your feet and your wings?"
Cloud looked around at herself. "My feet and my wings, I have none, for the Wind takes me anywhere under the sun."
Bird looked up high at Cloud and saw her feathery shape move along slowly in the sky. How light she seemed to be as she flew! Bird wanted to feel free like Cloud, but to do so, he had to be able to fly. Now, in that time, birds had wings but no one knew why they had them. Most of the time everyone used them like arms to give shade, and sometimes they hopped about with their wings to soften their falls back to the ground. But no one could fly, and no one thought about flying.
He looked up at her and saw that there were no other clouds in the sky but her. "Cloud, are you lonely?"
She answered him as only a cloud could, "Very lonely. My mommy and daddy live very far away, and I am all alone. What else can I say? I am sad."
Bird felt sorry for her and wanted to be her friend. If only he could fly, they could play together in the sky. Cloud had no friends to play with, and he would have liked very much to play with her. "Where are your mommy and daddy?"
"My mommy and daddy live far, far away," she said, sadly. "My mommy is Water. She lives in the ocean, too far away to see. My daddy is Storm Cloud, as great as can be. They are really important to everybody, so most of the time they are busy. That is why I am so lonely."
Bird listened to Cloud. "I will be your friend," he told her.
Cloud felt happier. Her bright white skirts beamed with light as she twirled around herself and smiled. "Thank you, Bird. Now I don't feel as lonely anymore. But only if you could fly, we could play together in the sky."
"I don't know how to fly, Cloud," he told her. He began to hop around the nest, tweeting as he tried to show her. "But I do want to learn how to, if I could try."
Cloud felt Wind blow under her breezily as she thought. She came up with an idea and told Bird that maybe her cousin Wind could help him learn to fly. Wind was good at making things blow, but he was often poor in other things. No one could tell what he was planning to do next. Sometimes he would blow breezes and sometimes he would make strong winds that would shake the trees and howl through the branches. No one could tell. But it just so happened that at that very moment, Wind laid back in that huge, great sky and spread his arms out, pushing Cloud away from Bird.
Bird watched her more closely as she began to blow farther away from him. "Cloud, where are you going?" he asked her.
Cloud looked sad. Her bright, cheerful radiance began to grow just a shade dimmer as she moved away. "I have to go. My daddy and mommy are calling me." Her wispy edges began to trail back away from the tips of the grass as Bird watched from his straw nest. The sky began to grow darker as the sun ran away from Wind, knowing that along with Wind came Storm Cloud. The sun lazily disappeared behind the first clouds as he sat back to take a rest from all that early morning shining, happily thanking Storm Cloud as he rumbled back to answer him.
Bird watched as Storm Cloud moved closer, pushed by Wind and followed by Water. Cloud began to grow even more sad because she did not want to leave Bird, and her daddy knew that she had made a friend. But they could not stop, because Wind kept pushing them away from Bird. Cloud called out to Bird, "Bird! Bird! Fly! Catch the wind and fly up to me!"
Bird reached up as high as he could and hopped up and down, back and forth, and all around, trying to catch Wind so he could ride on his back. But Wind was not there yet. Then, all so suddenly, a strong breeze swooped down from above and picked up Bird, floating him on a waft of air until he rose above the grass and saw for the first time the world around him, the trees in the distance from where he had heard the other birds sing. He now knew how to fly.
Storm Cloud began to rumble and growl noisily, telling Wind to stop blowing so that Bird could catch up with Cloud. Bird flew as fast and as hard as he could, soon becoming tired, never having flown before in his life. Wind was not kind to him, twisting the air around him so that he tumbled around in the sky. Cloud saw this, and not being able to do anything, she began to cry. Her huge, clear eyes made so many tears that it rained upon the land below, and on Bird, who still kept on flying.
Wind began to roar with laughter, watching Bird tumble about with air. He whispered along the ground, telling everyone to look up to the sky. He swooped between the trees until everyone had their eyes on him, and roared again. But Storm Cloud was not happy. Wind was blowing Cloud further and further away, and he became upset. Storm Cloud rose up above Wind, towering high above in the sky and sent his heavy arms around Wind. "You should not blow like this, Wind. It is morning, and the sun has already gone."
Wind blew so hard that he couldn't stop to listen to Storm Cloud and became angry with him. Wind rushed at Storm Cloud, and pushed him down in the sky. Bird, who had still kept on flying, saw Cloud look back at him before she went to join her daddy. Still crying, Cloud waved to Bird as Storm Cloud opened his arms and hugged her. Bird flapped down and landed back in his nest, watching Wind and Storm Cloud tumble about in the sky, howling, rumbling, and screaming across the land. They threw lightning at each other and roared whenever the lightning missed the other and hit the ground instead. Thunder crashed everywhere. But still, from somewhere below them, Cloud silently cried tears of rain down on the grass and trees of the land. She was sad that Bird was gone. They both missed each other. Bird watched them from his nest until it was all over, and Wind began to blow away.
That is why birds never fly during the rain. They think that if they do, Wind will see them again. And it always rains whenever Storm Cloud and Water meet each other. Bird never knew why, but he always thought it was because Cloud was so happy to see her mommy and daddy again that she cried, and cried, and cried. Bird and all the birds after him never forgot Cloud after that day. Some birds fly so high in the sky that they sometimes seem to stand there, gliding on the wind and trying to get closer to the clouds every day. But not all birds fly. There were birds who were scared of the sky, and never used their wings. They still can't fly.
All birds like Bird who live in the grass are still the same. When they begin to fly, they fly straight up, always looking up to the clouds. That is why birds fly. There are many different clouds in the sky, but all birds hope that one day they will meet the one Cloud who had made a friendship between the birds and the rain.