'Where Did All the Water Go?

Story Time

June 23, 1999|By Carolyn Sterns

Editor's note: A winter storm, a full moon, high pressure from Canada and a northwest wind all combine to push water out of low-lying areas of the Chesapeake Bay. But a little boy worries it won't come back.

I wake up every morning, and what do I see? I see water, lots and lots of water. I live with my mom and dad in a house on Herring Bay, which faces the Chesapeake Bay.

But on this cold morning I wake up and something is wrong -- really wrong.

The water is gone.

I dress myself and run outside.

"Where did all the water go?" I yell to the sky.

The sky doesn't pay any attention to me. All I can see are the swans, flying about and looking around for the water just as I am.

The mallard ducks are all in a tizzy, and the gulls are screeching as they zip this way and that. The canvasbacks are gone. No one knows where the water is.

When my mom and dad come out to see what all the fuss is about, I ask, "Where did all the water go? I went to bed last night and the water was here. Now, all I see are old pilings, an old shoe, two rusty tin cans, and a lot of sand and mud."

"Oh, I see a little water left," says my dad, pointing toward the horizon.

"But that's not enough water to fill a bathtub! I want to know where all the water is now!"

"Actually, the wind pushed the water away," says my dad. "That happens in the winter around the time of a full moon, like now."

"But the water was here last night," I shout.

"I know," he said, "but remember how hard the wind was blowing all day yesterday?"

"Yes."

"Well, the wind was coming from the northwest, near where the sun sets, and it was blowing so hard that the tide couldn't come in."

"Still," I mumble to myself, "the water must be somewhere."

"I think the water is floating up in the sky," says a swan who waddles past us. "Up above the clouds."

"I think the water is hidden in an underground cave," says a gull sitting sullenly on a piling, "where it's real quiet."

"I think the water is spiraling down into a deep hole never to be seen again," quacks a duck fearfully. This duck is better at worrying than I am.

I go to school because I have to, not because I want to. I worry the whole time. I can't imagine a life next to the Bay without water. What are all the birds, the fish, and the oysters to do? Are they going to die?

When the school day is finally over, I get back on the school bus and head home. I close my eyes because I'm afraid of what I might see when the bus stops at my driveway.

As the school bus turns the corner to my house, I squeeze my eyes even tighter shut.

"Hurry up," my dad calls. "I have a surprise for you."

"Look," he cries.

"It's back!" I yell. "The water is back."

My heart about bursts with joy. The water is back, all sparkly, bright, and blue-green. The geese are flying, the ducks are swimming, the gulls are gliding, the swans are arguing, and the oysters are -- well, the oysters are doing whatever oysters do. Nothing has changed. And I don't see a single dead thing anywhere.

"Wow!" I yell as I run to greet the water.

When I reach the water's edge, I stop short and whisper, "Welcome back, Water, I missed you!"

I can't say for sure the water heard me, but it did throw some spray up in my face at that very moment.

From WHERE DID ALL THE WATER GO? by Carolyn Stearns; illustrated by David Aiken. Text copyright c 1998 by Carolyn Stearns; illustrations copyright c 1998 by David Aiken. Used by permission of Tidewater Publishers.

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