Thomas and Laurette loved to spend their post-church Sunday afternoons taking tea (which for the children rarely involved the caffeinated substance) at the summit of one of the gentle rolling hills. They didn’t sit on a blanket, but on the sweet green grass, regardless of the resulting stains on their breeches that drove their mother crazy. In between scones, the siblings would often lie on their backs and gaze up at the clouds. A favorite game was to stare at the puffy white balls and try to see recognizable forms.
One Sunday, after a terribly boring sermon at church, Laurette was ready for some amusement. “Look at that one!” she exclaimed, pointing up at a small cloud. “It looks like a bunny rabbit!”
“Don’t be silly,” Thomas responded. “That’s a dragonfly. Can’t you see the wings? And that one over there is a sailboat.” He indicated a larger cloud near the dragonfly.
“Sailboat, hmph. I think you’re looking at it upside down. The way I see it, it looks like an ice cream cone.”
At the mention of the frozen confection, both children immediately started to notice the intense summer heat and the salt on their tongues, begging to be quenched with sweetness. Laurette was about to cry, for she knew her mother would never buy the children ice cream when they could barely afford their schoolbooks.
Before the tears came, the children were startled by a lanky shadow looming over them. Upon sitting up, they saw a man sporting a curly mustache and a pair of spectacles. His thin body looked flexible, as if it could be twisted like a pretzel.
He rounded his back and dove down to peer into Laurette’s watery eyes. “Do you children want to know a secret?”
Both nodded their heads. Secrets were usually fun, at least until they popped out of your mouth at the wrong time.
The mustache-man lifted his right arm. It reached high into the sky, growing longer and longer it seemed, until he was able to grab the cloud that was either a bunny or a dragonfly and bring it down to eye level. Once there, he began molding the substance with his hands, muttering to himself, until it was unmistakably a bunny with dragonfly wings. “Hold this now, so it doesn’t fly away,” the man directed Laurette. She engaged seriously in her task.
Meanwhile, Thomas’ jaw hung open as the man pulled the sailboat-ice cream cone cloud down from the sky. His hands mulled over the cottony material until it was a seaworthy ship. The man gestured for the children to climb aboard, and he took the dragonfly-bunny from Laurette’s hands.
Thomas ran onto the deck first, and noticed that next to the mast the man had fashioned an ice-cream machine. He took a cloudy cup, pushed down the cumulus lever, and soon a swath of pastel-blue soft-serve ice cream sent the aroma of blueberries and honey up to the children’s noses.
The mustache-man attached a harness and bit to the dragonfly-bunny. The rodent-insect began galloping down the hill, and soon took off, carrying the children in their sailboat over the sea. Laurette and Thomas licked the ice cream together until it was gone. Then they looked at all the undiscovered islands below them and watched the tails of sea serpents rolling above and below the waves. Thomas said to his little sister, “I shall learn to do what the mustache-man has done. Then we can always have our way in the clouds.”
Meanwhile, back on the hill, the mustache-man sat alone in the grass. He took a bite of an abandoned scone. He’d earned his sweetness for the day.
Image credits in order of appearance:
“West cliff above clay ope portland dorset” by JimChampion – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:West_cliff_above_clay_ope_portland_dorset.jpg#/media/File:West_cliff_above_clay_ope_portland_dorset.jpg
“Iwan Konstantinowitsch Aiwasowskij 003” by Ivan Aivazovsky – The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Iwan_Konstantinowitsch_Aiwasowskij_003.jpg#/media/File:Iwan_Konstantinowitsch_Aiwasowskij_003.jpg
“Corfe Castle from the air” by David Bunting from Dorchester, DORSET, England – Corfe Castle 1. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Corfe_Castle_from_the_air.jpg#/media/File:Corfe_Castle_from_the_air.jpg
“Caspar David Friedrich – Wanderer above the sea of fog” by Caspar David Friedrich – The photographic reproduction was done by Cybershot800i. (Diff). Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Caspar_David_Friedrich_-_Wanderer_above_the_sea_of_fog.jpg#/media/File:Caspar_David_Friedrich_-_Wanderer_above_the_sea_of_fog.jpg