A Children's Story by Bob Biegert

My friend Bob, a fifth grade teacher, created this story for my nephew Mike. It is the sequel to Sky Blue Lake.

Mike Saves Spring

If you were a bird flying high up in the sky, over the hills and trees, you might come to a place where the trees stop at the edge of a big blue lake. In the middle of Sky Blue Lake is an island. And on the island lives a boy named Mike.

Mike's home is in a tree house. He lives there in spring and summer and fall and winter. The seasons are all different, but winter at Sky Blue Lake is the most different of all.

First, the chilly winds blow, then snow falls. The air gets colder and colder, and finally the lake freezes over with a smooth sheet of ice. Mike's friends put on their ice skates and race out to his island, and Mike puts on his skates and joins them. They glide all over the hard, glassy lake, carving thin curvy lines in the ice with their skate blades.

One winter at Sky Blue Lake, something very strange happened. The snowy season was very, very long, and very, very cold. Mike spotted animals he had never seen before: white foxes, lovely white birds, even polar bears. Most of Mike's animal friends, however, were in hiding. The fish were beneath the ice; the turtles and frogs were asleep in the mud; the birds he knew had flown south; and the beavers and muskrats had long since burrowed into their mud-and-stick homes, now snow-covered mounds along the edge of the frozen lake. Chipper, the chipmunk, stayed nestled in a hole in the oak tree, waiting for a warm sunny day.

Mike waited too, as the icicles hanging on his tree house grew longer and longer. At last he began to worry because he hadn't seen his animal friends for a very long time.

Aware that something was wrong, Mike decided to search for the reason spring hadn't come. He got up early one morning, dressed in his warmest clothes, packed some food in his backpack, and set off. Across the ice he went and into the snowy woods. There, he looked about carefully, knowing he could learn many things by observing animals and the ways of nature.

While exploring, Mike saw something that gave him an idea. Just ahead of him in the snow were tracks of a large polar bear. If he could follow the tracks, maybe he would learn why these bears were wandering near the lake during this long, cold winter. The tracks led him through the hills and down into a steep rocky ravine.

Suddenly Mike heard a sound in the distance. As he continued following the tracks, the sound grew louder. He thought it might be a big, strong wind blowing very hard, but Mike didn't feel any wind.

The tracks led to a huge tunnel where the wind was. Blowing down the tunnel was a very strong wind howling fiercely. Mike made a snowball and threw it into the tunnel. Whoosh! The snowball disappeared, pushed down the tunnel by the wind. This is very strange he thought.

Wondering about the disappearing snowball, Mike decided that maybe the tunnel and this wind had something to do with why spring hadn't come. Here was a mystery, and although Mike knew it could be dangerous, he decided to go down the tunnel to see what he could find.

He stepped inside, and the wind knocked him over. As he tried to get to his feet, he stumbled, and the wind rolled him down the tunnel. The wind was blowing so hard that it would be difficult to get back out, but Mike wished for the best and allowed himself to be pushed down the tunnel by the wind.

Down, down, down he went until finally he came to a little cave off to the side of the howling passageway. Eager to get out of the wind, Mike crawled inside. Immediately, he saw something lying on the floor. It was a strange pile of leaves. He stood up, stepped closer, and saw that it was a sleeping woman. Her clothes were made of leaves and grasses and flowers and moss that looked almost as though they were growing on her. As Mike kneeled down, to get a better view, she woke up. Surprised, she smiled at him.

Right away Mike knew he had never met a person like this before. She seemed to fill the cave with a wonderful feeling.

"You are a brave boy to come down this windy tunnel. I didn't think anyone would find me here," she said in a sweet and gentle voice.

As she spoke, Mike realized that he smelled the aroma of flowers and tree blossoms and leaves and other scents of the woods on a warm, sunny day.

"Who are you?" he asked.

"I am Spring. I wander through the forest after winter and help things start to grow again. I call the birds back from the south. I help melt the snow and warm the earth so the animals can come out and find the food they need."

"I've been waiting for you to come."

"I know," said Spring. "I've been trapped here at the bottom of this windy tunnel."

"How did you get trapped?" asked Mike.

And Spring told him, "The polar bears tricked me into this tunnel. Something is wrong in the north where they live, so they moved down here. They don't want winter to end because they will have to leave and they have nowhere to go. As soon as I entered this tunnel, a winter wind began to blow with all its cold fury, blocking my way out. Ever since, I've been trapped inside."

"What is wrong in the north?" asked Mike.

"I don't exactly know. Something has changed, forcing the bears to leave their home. They will stay here as long as winter continues."

"I will help you," declared Mike. "I'll get you out of here, and then it will be spring for all of my friends at Sky Blue Lake."

"I think you can help me. You are concerned about your friends, and you took a risk coming down this tunnel. Your generosity and bravery are wonderful, but you will also need some magic. You will need to travel to faraway places and do difficult tasks. To help you, I will give you the power to change your shape and form. Just by thinking of it, you will be able to become any animal or element of nature that you wish. You will be able to go anywhere you feel called to go and do anything you think is necessary to get me out of this jam. But to help me, you may have to help many others, because sometimes problems are much bigger than they appear to be."

Puzzled, Mike asked Spring, "Why don't you use your magic to escape from this tunnel and start springtime?"

"My friend, some of the most wonderful things in the world can only be given away. They do not happen if we keep them for ourselves. My magic is one of those special things."

Mike still looked puzzled. Seeing his confusion, Spring smiled and said, "Mike, my magic is a gift I give away to help others. Helping is something that only works when you give it away, and you have offered me the gift of your help."

Mike thought about helping, and remembered Spring's words about perhaps having to help many others. Then he wondered who the others might be.

The polar bears needed help. If he could help them, they'd go home and Spring would be free. But for that he would have to go to the polar bears' home way up north. He would have to travel quickly, as fast as the wind. Mike decided to become the wind and fly to the bears' home.

Mike told Spring his plan. She replied that all he had to do was think of the wind and he would become it.

It was easy for Mike to think about the wind. He listened to it in the tunnel and felt it moving past the cave. Suddenly, he was caught up in it swirling and twisting down the tunnel. After squeezing out between two big boulders, he was in the sky flying as fast as could be, for he was the wind.

When Mike reached the land of the north, he saw the problem. A thick black cloud was blocking every ray of sunshine. The ground was covered with a solid sheet of ice. Everything was frozen. This extreme cold must have been too much even for polar bears.

But why was the cloud blocking the sun and making the land so cold?

To learn the answer to this mystery, Mike thought himself into a cloud. Instantly a foggy mist swirled around him. He felt his body turn light and puffy. Soon he was floating on the air. He was so fat and squishy that he laughed. He heard all the clouds around him laugh in reply.

Mike talked to the clouds. When he tried to explain who he was, but they only laughed harder. They did not see a boy trying to help. Mike gave up trying to explain himself, and asked why they were all together in this thick dark cluster.

One cloud answered, "We clouds used to move freely about the sky, sailing back and forth, here and there, riding the wind. But, then some of us were rounded up into this black cloud as punishment. You see, we clouds love to gather together like a large family. When we do this, we make rain. Several months ago we gathered over the jungle. We were having so much fun that we forgot about all of the rain we were making. We soaked the jungle gardens. Everything was wet—too wet. To stop the rain, the wind had to push us all away. It pushed us up here to the frozen north and is keeping us packed together as a big tight group. It was a mistake to have rained so hard. We know that now. We've learned our lesson and wish to leave this cold place, but the wind is keeping us here."

Mike wondered if he could help the clouds. He though about the wind that was keeping them packed together in this cold place, and he thought about the wind that was keeping Spring a prisoner in the tunnel near Sky Blue Lake. Then Mike decided to see what he could learn in the wet jungle. He said good-bye to the clouds, promising he would help them if he could. And off he went.

He changed back into the wind. Whoosh! Flying across the snowy land and over the high, rocky-mountains, he came to a desert. And on the other side of the desert, he saw the green jungle.

Oh, what a beautiful place, the jungle was! Flowers were growing everywhere—on trees and bushes, on vines, and all across the ground. They were even floating on the streams. And hovering about some flowers were swarms of bees. Other bees were darting about the jungle as if they knew exactly where they needed to go.

Wondering where to go next, Mike thought, I will become a bee. Feeling himself growing smaller and segmented, he looked down and saw that he now had the fuzzy, golden body of a bee. His wings buzzed very fast as he flew from flower to flower. He smelled all the wonderful nectar and saw vivid patterns of color. Mike met lots of other bees and made many friends. All the while he noticed that each bee, after flying off to flowers thick with pollen, would return to the hive and tell the others about it. Then a group of bees would head for the same place and collect more pollen to bring back to the hive. The bees did not work alone, however; something was helping them.

In the jungle were gentle breezes that carried the bees to the pollen-covered flowers. When the pollen was sticking to the bodies and legs of the bees, the breezes help to carry them back to the hive.

As a bee, Mike learned about the jungle breezes. They reminded him of the wind in the north that was keeping the clouds packed together and the wind that was keeping Spring trapped in the tunnel. How could he find out about the wind?

Although he had been the wind, he had no idea why it did what it did. Eager to find out, Mike asked the other bees if they knew about the wind. They didn't but told him the queen bee would know because she was very wise and knew many things.

"How can I talk to the queen?" Mike asked.

The bees said that if he worked very, very hard, the queen would find out, and call him to her room in the hive to thank him.

When Mike heard that, he began to work extra hard. He got up early each morning and buzzed his wings as fast as they would go. He flew from flower to flower collecting pollen, and made as many trips as he could to and from the hive. He did this day after day after day. Then one day, a messenger told Mike that the queen wanted to see him.

The messenger led him into the hive, down a long hallway that was golden and smelled as sweet as a thousand flowers. Mike followed the messenger to the very center of the hive, and there was the queen's room.

Stepping inside, Mike saw the queen. He was very surprised. She was gigantic and did not look like the other bees. She had a long body and long wings, and her kind voice was very powerful.

"Hello worker bee," she said. "I am glad you have come. I have heard what a hard worker you are. Bees like you are important to the hive. You are a great help because you gather pollen that is made into food for me and the baby bees. I thank you for all of us, and would like to do a favor for you if I can."

"Yes, Queen, you can do me a favor. I am not really a bee. I am a boy named Mike. I only became a bee so I could help somebody."

"Oh my! What a surprise. Who are you trying to help, Mike?"

"I am trying to help the clouds, so that I can help the polar bears, so that I can help spring come to Sky Blue Lake."

"Dear Mike, that sounds very difficult. I know you are a good worker, but you will need some help. How can I help you?"

"I need to find out about the wind. I would like to talk to the wind, but I don't know how to do that or where to go."

"I know who you need to talk to Mike. You must talk to the dream maker."

"Dream maker? Who is that? Where does he live?"

"The dream maker is the one who makes dreams for everyone. He is my friend because, like me, he makes honey. He makes dream honey at his home, which is in the middle of a great whirlwind. This whirlwind travels the night sky in the shadow of the moon. Because the whirlwind stays in the dark, no one sees it."

"Does anyone ever see the dream maker?"

"Yes. The dream bees see him every night."

"Dream bees? Why, I don't think I have ever seen a dream bee."

"No one sees the dream bees, Mike, because they bring people their dreams. They come out only while you are sleeping. I hope I have helped you Mike."

"Oh, thank you, Queen. You have helped me very much. Good-bye."

"Good-bye Mike."

After leaving the queen, Mike wandered through the hive. He knew where he must go next. He would visit the dream maker. But how could he get there. The queen said that dream bees see the dream maker every night, so Mike decided to become a dream bee.

That night Mike buzzed off into the sky and thought about being a dream bee. He felt something change as he flew along, but didn't know what was happening until he looked down at himself. His golden body was now the color of night, and his wings has stopped buzzing. He was flying along in perfect silence as a dream bee. Way off in the night sky he could see the moon and that's where he headed.

Flying along, he noticed other dream bees traveling toward the moon. Then, off if the distance, he saw a hazy, swirling shape. As he approached, he knew this was the whirlwind. He could hear it whistling. The closer he flew, the more frightened he became. The whirlwind was enormous and extremely powerful. How could anyone fly into that?

Mike watched the other bees fly into a certain spot and disappear. He knew he must do the same, so he trailed another bee, hoping to follow it right through the whirlwind. Just before reaching the spinning wall of wind, he flinched a little and missed his mark. Caught in the mighty wind, he spun around dizzily before getting through to the other side.

On the other side was a hive-almost like the hive in the jungle, except this one was darker and smelled even sweeter. Dream bees were busy working, flying here and there, bringing pollen, and making honey.

Mike flew towards the center of the hive, where he hoped to find the dream maker. Down a long hall he went, and into a large room filled with the sweetest aroma. As if the room was a giant flower, Mike was drawn to its center, where he saw the glowing embers of a fire under a huge pot filled with warm honey.

Sticking out of the pot was a long wooden handle, which in the darkness, seemed to stir by itself. Mike flew closer and saw a shadowy figure holding the handle. Wearing a dark, hooded cape, this being seemed to be made out of smoke or mist. Mike could almost see through him. The hooded figure was staring into the pot and only when Mike was inches away from his face did he look up. He had bright golden eyes, and a big smile.

Mike asked, "Are you the dream maker?"

"Silly bee, you know I am the dream maker."

Then Mike explained: "I'm not really a dream bee. I'm a boy. I changed into a dream bee so I could talk to you. I need to learn about the wind. Is it true that you are a good friend of the wind?"

The dream maker nodded. "Yes, the wind and I are very good friends because we help each other. Have you ever heard the wind at night? Somewhere the wind is always blowing, for it never sleeps. And because it never sleeps, it never dreams like you and me. But the wind helps me. It helps my dream bees deliver their dream honey by carrying them long distances, and it help me by creating this whirlwind that carries my hive through the sky. In exchange for all this assistance, I make special dreams that the wind can have without sleeping. This way the wind enjoys the pleasure of dreams while awake and helping me. Now, why do you want to talk to the wind?"

Mike explained: "There is a wind up north that is keeping the clouds all packed together in a big black cluster over the home of the polar bears. No sun can get through, and the land is so cold the polar bears had to move. They moved to Sky Blue Lake where I live. The polar bears like winter, and they want it to continue, so they trapped Spring in a tunnel to keep her from warming the land. A winter wind is blowing down the tunnel keeping Spring a prisoner. My animal friends need her to come out so they can warm up and find food. I have to help Spring and the polar bears and my friends."

As soon as Mike finished, the dream maker exclaimed, "Oh no," I'm afraid this problem is my fault. You see, when the clouds rained so hard all over the jungle and everything got so wet, my bees couldn't collect pollen from the flowers at night and I almost ran out of honey. Without dream honey, there would be no dreams. So I asked the wind to push the clouds away and keep them away so the flowers could dry out. But I forgot to tell the wind to set the clouds free. Just as soon as I can, I will talk to the wind and tell it to release the clouds. Then the polar bears can go home and Spring can emerge form the tunnel and bring the green plants back to the land where you live."

"Oh, that would be wonderful!" said Mike. "Can the wind let the clouds go very soon?"

"Yes, I will speak with the wind tonight, and the clouds will be free by morning."

"Before morning-that's great! Dream maker, you have helped me so much. Is there any way I can help you?"

The dream maker stirred the pot and thought for a minute. Then he said, "There is something you can do to help. Every night the dream bees must deliver dreams to people everywhere. If you could deliver a dream for us that would help. If there is a special dream you want to give someone, let me know and I will put it in a drop of dream honey for you to deliver."

Immediately, Mike's eyes lit up and he smiled. "Yes, there is a dream I would like to deliver."

"Tell me what it is."

"It is a dream about melting snow, and new plants growing, and frogs croaking, and baby birds chirping in their nest high on a leafy branch, and squirrels racing in trees, and fish jumping out of the water in the middle of a big blue lake."

"That's a wonderful dream," said the dream maker. "In a moment I'll have it ready for you to deliver."

He stirred the big pot. Then he lifted the spoon. On the tip of the spoon was a tiny drop of dark gold honey. The dream maker blew on the spoon to cool the honey, and then whispered, "Ready."

Mike flew up and carefully gathered the drop in his little forelegs. He looked at the dream maker, thanked him, and said good-bye. The dream maker smiled and winked at him, and Mike flew off.

He flew down the hallway to the edge of the hive, then out through the whirlwind and into the night sky. He swooped through the jungle, across the desert, up over the mountains, and finally to a land covered with snow. He zipped over the hills to a big lake with an island in the middle, across the lake, into the hills, on the other side, and a rocky ravine. Cradling the honey drop, the dream bee flew into the windy tunnel to find Spring.

She was curled up asleep. Mike gently placed the dream honey on her lips, and she began to smile. She sighed as if remembering something special. She looked very happy as the bee circled the cave once and zoomed away.

Up the tunnel he went flying against the wind. Then out into the night, straight to the island, though a knothole. Home at last, he changed back into a boy. Mike was very happy to be home, and so tired that he dropped into bed, pulled up the covers, and fell asleep as soon as his head touched the pillow.

He slept all night, through morning and into the afternoon. He was dreaming about bees and hives, and jungles, and winds, and snow, and polar bears all mixed together, when he felt something furry, brush against his cheek. Hearing a squeak, he opened his eyes to find his friend Chipper, the chipmunk. They were overjoyed. Mike was about to tell Chipper about his journey, but when he looked out the window and saw what a beautiful day it was, he said, "Come on Chip, there is something I need to see."

Mike threw on his plaid wool coat and Chipper rode in Mike's shirt pocket. With a bounce in his step, Mike climbed down the ladder, and ran out onto the ice, sliding like a skater. Across the lake to the woods he sped. Feeling the warm air, he unbuttoned his coat without slowing down for a second. In the ravine, Mike stopped several times to listen. The wind was gone from Spring's tunnel and the cave was empty.

Mike hoped to see Spring again, but knew she was working. Stepping back into the warm sunshine, Mike noticed a green shoot pushing out of the snow. Next to the shoot, was a message from Spring written in swirling letter in the snow: "Thank you Mike."

Only one question remained. Mike closed his eyes and thought about being a bird flying back to his tree house. Nothing happened. With joy in his heart, he walked back though the woods with Chipper. They noticed the first signs of spring everywhere and Mike celebrated the season he worked so hard to bring to Sky Blue Lake and all of his friends.

Copyright Bob Biegert