1.Ana and the stork go on a journey
Ana was born and raised in a small town in the province. Her parents were good and humble people - her father worked as a pharmacist and had lived outside of the small town only as a student, her mother was a nurse that also had not resided somewhere else for a long period of time. They loved Ana greatly and put a lot of effort her childhood to be joyful and calm. Anichka`s grandfather lived inside the opposite house and the little girl loved to visit him and to spend long hours together with him, very much, because he had many interesting books and always told her some remarkable story. He often described the animals in the mountains, the birds in the sky, the endless desert, the ocean, the harsh steppe, the savanna of Africa and many other marvelous places. One could say that Ana was filled with curiosity, she wanted to know everything – why were the wings of a butterfly different from those of a bee or of an eagle, how was possible the giraffe had such an enormous body and a long neck, and such tiny horns, and how did it not get dizzy from the height, why did whales sometimes swim to the shore without being able to go back and so on… These sorts of questions emerged inside little Ana`s head all the time. She had the possibility to make the smartest of grown-ups asks themselves questions they could not give an answer to. Ana had long chestnut colored hair, ending with beautiful curls, her eyes were big and bright, her nose was snub, her face – round. She had a sharp mind and was very agile, she could run fast, jump high and wide, also she could walk for hours without getting tired. But her most interesting quality was that she could understand animals. For her this was as normal as it was for grown-ups to drink coffee or tea with their breakfast in the morning. Of course Ana remained misunderstood when she would seriously proclaim “I can talk to animals!”
Even her grandfather, who possessed so much knowledge and skill, assumed it was her imagination and thought it would pass in time.
One spring morning Anichka was in the yard with her grandfather in front of his house. He was watering the petunias with a watering can painted with rainbows, clouds, birds and butterflies and Ana watched him carefully as she was sitting comfortably on the swinging chair, swaying back and forth, obviously some question was bothering her
“Grandpa, why do petunias have different colors when they grow from the same seed and on the same place?”
Her grandfather looked at her, then raised his eyebrows pointedly, grabbed his long, curved mustache with his hand and started to twist it. “Dear child, sometimes in nature we come across questions whose answers help us to better understand ourselves. Look at the petunias for example, as you have noticed, they own various colorings, but together they are far more beautiful rather than they are individually. It is the same with people, we are all different but when everyone gives their best we can live happily side by side and complete one another. “
Ana thought about it and nodded in acceptance. “Grandfather, I fully agree with you. If we could learn from the petunias we would be much happier.” The old man nodded his head and told her that he is going to the shed behind the house to leave the watering can. Ana remained alone in the yard and as her grandfather turned the corner a stork landed next to her and said “Hello, Ana, I am Nico and I know that you can understand me.” The little girl did not feel a drop of disturbance and with eyes wide open, as if she wanted to look at the bird better, she said “Hi, Nico, it is true that animals can understand me and I can hear them, but tell me what are you doing here alone, where is your family? I know that in this time of the year you all come back to spend the whole summer and afterwards you fly back south.”
“Yes, Ana, that is right, but this year my family`s flock went through some trouble.”
“What trouble?” asked the girl.
“I flew away with my parents and my older brother, this was my first migration. We joined the big flock that flew off the African coast. Everything was fine in the beginning; all of us were together and supported each other. But things took a turn around the second week after we left. We were soaring upon the Atlantic Ocean when the warm air flow we were relying on to carry us so that we don`t drain our energy, disappeared and we had to start waving our wings in order not to fall down. We had two choices: one of them was to go back to Africa and the other was to continue forward and fly until we reach Europe. Although Africa was closer, I really hoped we would go on, I was so excited for my first migration and full of curiosity on the life in this place that would be new to me. Yet, Europe was too far away and the journey was going to take too much effort. For my surprise panic emerged among the flock, regardless that many of the birds had a lot of experience. Some of my fellows turned back, others remained. Everyone was moving chaotically and crashing into one another. In the flurry I found myself separated from my family, I could not see them, nor hear them because of all the uproar that was caused by everybody around me. Then I realized I was all by myself among strangers that did not even notice me. As if that wasn`t enough, it started to get dark. I had to decide if I should go back or continue. My decision was to go on, I felt that I had the power to do it, hoping that my family had continued forward as well and that we would be reunited in Europe. Unfortunately, later it turned out they had gone back to Africa, since I did not find them after me and a couple other young storks reached the European shore. The journey was grueling and it was days before we caught a warm tide to carry us. Many of those who continued were falling into the water, because of the exhaustion. I reached your city with a few young couples of storks alongside me. They built their nests and so I was alone, an urban sparrow told me about you. I do not know what to do, nor where to go- can you help me?”
Ana got up from the chair and hugged Nico. “Of course I will help you, my friend!” she said with a smile.
Then her grandfather came back from the yard and, surprised, he asked what was going on.
Little Ana briefly told her grandfather all of Nico`s story, the old man stood with a puzzled look, twisting his mustache, he looked at the bird tentatively and understood that the stork truly was exhausted. He went back into the house and came back shortly, carrying a bottle full of milk. Nico eagerly stuck down his beak inside the bottle and started to drink.
“We will accommodate you on the balcony under the rooftop of grandpa`s house” Ana said.
The old man and his grandchild gathered some grass and laid it on a big wooden basin- that was the young stork`s new home. Nico was so joyous, because he felt the love and support.
“I do not know how I could ever repay you, sweet Ana!’ he said to the little girl.
“I do.” she replied.
“How?!” the stork asked impatiently.
“It is simple- tell me about the places you have passed on your way here.
Nico nodded his head affirmatively. “I would be glad” he said.“Let me tell you about Africa first. Did you know that in Africa people can fly and that’s their preferred way to travel?”
“Ha-ha-ha!” Ana`s muffling laughter was echoing across the room. “I`d never believe such a silly tail!” she said convinced.
“No, no” Nico counteracted energetically: “It is the very truth. I have seen them with my eyes!”
“Hmm.., I don`t believe you!” Ana halted emphatically.
“Well alright, I will not argue since you`re so sure”
“Tell me something else about Africa!” she invoked.
“Alright, in Africa there are trees that grow sideways and not upwards. The monkeys that live on them hang upside down.”
“I do not believe you, my dear friend, how can they hang upside down when that way they will see everything awry?”
“Do you know that in the Atlantic Ocean there is fish that can swim faster than a ship.
“Well, that sounds more believable.”
“And do you know, Ana, there are so many amazing and wonderful things in the world. To me it is like a colorful garden with whimsical creatures inside it. Every one of them has a connection to the other and all of them together make the garden so interesting and beautiful.
“Grandpa says something similar. Tell me then why are people incapable of living in peace and making the world as splendid as a colorful garden, together?!”
“Dear Ana, as I was traveling, I saw many things and realized that often humans stray away from nature and led by greed or blinded from the glory of their own world, they cannot become aware or they forget that their life should resemble a blooming Tulip – adorning the world, and not an oil spill in the ocean that only leaves despair after itself.
“Well, tell me then, are people all the same everywhere you have been?!”
“Often in different places they look diverse, they speak distinct languages , they believe in different things, but everywhere people have the same nature.”
“You know Nico, I am very curious and I want to check your words by going to Africa with you. Would you take me when you go back to your family?”
“But what would your parents do without you? They would worry too much.”
“My parents want to go on a long journey because they have never been outside this country. They will be abroad for at least one year, don`t worry, we will be back before them. And I am sure grandpa would be glad, he helps me a lot in learning about the world.”
“Are you sure?”
“Of course, I will write him a letter right now, to say where I`m going and when I will be back and everything is going to be fine. I think I might be useful to you when you start to look for your family.” – declared Anna smiling. Then she took a piece of paper and started writing: “Dear grandpa, me and Nico are heading to Africa. I am going to help him find his parents and his brother and I will see many different interesting places. I need this adventure so I can find the answers to the many questions that agitate me. You know that curiosity is like a stallion carrying us into novelty and I love riding that horse a lot. I love you, mom and dad very much! See you in a few months!”
Nico had regained his powers and the desire to see his family urged him to agree without much hesitation. And so, on this afternoon in May over the horizon of the small town the silhouettes of the young stork and Ana, who was sitting on its back, were raying swiftly and with confidence in the sky and in their hearts there was not a drop of doubt that this is the right path.
2.A meeting at the mill
They flew for about an hour and a half and in this time Ana managed to see the whole city from above. Her house and the one of her grandfather looked like the tiny cube toys she loved playing with so much. Of course for an hour and a half they passed a long way from the limits of the small town and the near villages and flew over fields of sunflowers that looked like the earth`s beautiful colorful attire. Ana was so mesmerized from the loveliness of the fields that she could not stop smiling and exclaiming: “Wow, it`s so pretty!” Her excitement became even bigger when they reached the woods beyond the fields. Since Nico was not flying very high she could easily notice the squirrels on the trees, as well as the various birds, perched on the tree branches. They energetically stuck their beaks into the tree bark and in a self-satisfied manner swallowed tree beetles after that. Ana realized that the inhabitants of the woods were connected between one another and the life of each of them was dependant on someone else`s life. As the little girl was pondering on that question it became dark and Nico decided that it would be best if they seek shelter and food. The young stork was worried that they would not be able to find food for Ana.
“How could I set off without thinking of what you would eat, sweet Ana. You cannot feed on frogs and snakes like me.”
“Hey, Nico, do not worry about it, I`m small and I do not need a lot of food. We will find something for me.”
In that moment they saw a medium sized building with fins on it.
“Look, that`s a mill, you can tell and a bakery, because they are selling bread at the front.” noticed Ana.
“But how will we buy any when we do not have any money?” said Nico concerned.
“Didn`t I tell you that I took a small bag of silver coins out of grandpa`s drawer? My grandfather used to own a wildlife sanctuary years ago and he piled many of these coins from the visitors. Actually he is quite a wealthy man but he lives in a humble way, because for him the people he loves, nature and freedom are far more important than money, that can sometimes make people very evil or stupid in his words, he has also said that when money makes us think mostly about it, it turns into our master and takes our freedom away. I completely agree with him when I think about it , we should use money, not become its slaves.”
“Sweet Ana, it is very hard for me to understand humans. It seems most of them do not realize that they too are a part of nature and they pollute so much and harm our planet. They put their comfort before the connection to nature and by doing so they hurt all of us.”
As they were talking the two friends reached the mill. It was a medium sized white building, its back was higher and narrower and almost at the very top there was a fin, powered by the wind. The front was lower and wider and had big windows, through which it was visible that inside there was a furnace and many metal shelves. People were standing in line to buy fresh bread. The two friends even managed to see that there were various kinds of bread – some big, some small, some long, some that was flat like a bap, one was like a match box, another had a triangular form. “Such interesting bread!” exclaimed Ana.
“I have never seen such dark bread and with so many shapes.” replied Nico.
“Let`s line up, I really want to try every kind!” suggested Anichka.
“Alright!” Nico accepted since he was also very interested in the bread..
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