The Missing Tooth • The Bird Who Crashed Her Hot-Air Balloon
One Minute Wit
I used to worry about everything.
It was making me miserable.
So I hired someone to worry for me.
Now I’m worried that they aren’t worrying enough.
The Missing Tooth
Danny came crashing through the back door crying.
“What’s wrong, Sweetie,” Danny’s mother asked.
“I was outside playing frisbee with Beth and Josh. Then Beth looked at me and said, ‘Your front tooth is gone.’ We looked everywhere, but we couldn’t find my tooth. What if the Tooth Fairy won’t give me a dollar now?”
“Don’t worry. Almost the same exact thing happened to me when I was a girl. Grandma put a note under my pillow explaining what happened. When I checked the next morning, I found a quarter there.”
“Really? How old is the Tooth Fairy?”
Island of Phiddle Story
The Bird Who Crashed Her Hot-Air Balloon
If you haven’t already, you may want to read about Stroller’s (the bird) first adventure before reading this one. It is not necessary, but it will provide significant background for this story. — Phineas Phiddlephaddle
by Phineas Phiddlephaddle
Stroller was a bird who was afraid to fly. But thanks to the kindness of Professor Tinkerhoffer, who built her a bird-sized hot-air balloon, Stroller learned to fly the skies in her balloon. She was quite an accomplished balloon pilot.
Her human friend, Annabel Cartwheel, was her ground crew. Annabel helped Stroller get her balloon filled and ready to fly. The process didn’t take long, as the balloon was rather small. And she carried the balloon home after flights while Stroller told Annabel all that she had seen from the sky.
“I saw Winston Ferguson out on the hills with his sheep. I drifted down close and sang a little to get his attention. He looked up and waved. Then he backed into one of his sheep and took a tumble backward over it. He laid flat on his back and shouted, ‘I’m all right!’ We both laughed.”
“Oh, how funny! I wish I had seen that.”
One Thursday, Annabel helped Stroller get airborne as usual. But there was nothing ordinary about this particular balloon flight. The winds were calm when Stroller took off, but they soon picked up and lifted Stroller high up in the sky. Soon she was flying higher than she had ever flown and was headed straight for Mt. Phiddle.
Higher and higher, she climbed, with no control over the ascent. When the winds finally let up, Stroller was just above Mt. Phiddle. To her dismay, the balloon started falling. She pulled on the rope that opened the burner and heated the air in the balloon, but it was no use. Stroller and her balloon crashed on top of Mt. Phiddle. The balloon deflated and got snagged in a group of Warbleberry bushes.
Several warbles saw Stroller crash and quickly came to check on her. Stroller was unhurt, but her balloon was in a sorry state. She had little hope of getting it flying again. She was stuck.
Fortunately, Stroller was under six years of age in bird years, so she could still talk to other animals. A warble named Moppyback was the first to arrive on the scene.
“Are you hurt, tiny bird?” Moppyback asked.
“I believe I am unhurt,” Stroller replied.
“What is your name?”
“I am Moppyback. I am glad you are unhurt.”
Soon other warbles arrived. Stroller forgot about her balloon for a moment and marveled at the warbles.
“Are you warbles? I have heard the stories about the singing animals on the top of Mt. Phiddle. But I have met any.”
“Yes, we are warbles. Welcome to our home,” Moppyback replied.
Stroller remembered her balloon and hopped over to the Warbleberry bushes where the balloon was lying.
“I am afraid warbleberry bushes have many thorns. I fear your balloon may have several tears,” Moppyback said.
“What will I do now?”
“Fear not, tiny bird. You are welcome to stay with us until Professor Tinkerhoffer makes this monthly run. We have plenty of Warbleberries, Warblenuts, and Scrungies to eat.”
“Thank you, Moppyback. You are very kind. What are Scrungies?”
“Scrungies grow under the ground. We dig them up and mash them. They are delicious.”
Stroller took the warbles up on their offer of hospitality and accompanied them back to their village.
As they sat down for a traditional dinner of scrungies and warbleberries, Moppyback asked Stroller about her balloon.
“We have looked down and seen your balloon flying, but we assumed it was some kind of toy. How is it a bird like yourself possesses and flies a hot-air balloon?”
“The professor made it for me.”
“But why? Surely a bird has no need for a balloon.”
“The truth of the matter is, I am afraid to fly. I don’t know if I even can. I have never tried. The professor made me a balloon of my own, so I could fly like he does.”
Stroller took a nibble of some scrungies and found the taste of them quite unusual, and not to her liking. But she politely ate some more. Then she ate some warbleberries. They were much better tasting than scrungies, but not nearly as good as Phiddleberries, in her opinion. She grew a little sad thinking that she would likely miss Phiddleberry Friday this week.
After dinner, the warbles treated Stroller to a concert. They sang beautifully. Stroller tried to join them as best she could, not knowing the words. Around the third song, Joey the Hawk landed and approached Stroller.
“There you are. Annabel is very worried about you. You have never been gone this long. She sent me to look for you.”
“I am sorry for your trouble. A mighty wind carried my balloon up here, and I crashed. I am stuck here. Would you ask Professor Tinkerhoffer to come and rescue me in his hot-air balloon?”
“He is off on a supply run to New York City. He won’t be back for two weeks.”
“Oh, dear. I will miss two Phiddleberry Fridays. Would you carry me down?”
“Certainly not. You can fly down yourself. You are a bird, after all.” Joey said. Then he turned and flew away.
Stroller was stunned. She didn’t know what to do. As much as she enjoyed singing with the warbles, she didn’t want to spend two weeks eating scrungies.
“Let’s go for a walk,” Moppyback said.
“All right,” Stroller replied.
They walked through grassy fields, past scrungie patches, and wound up next to a wide stream.
“This stream runs across the top of Mt. Phiddle and ends in a waterfall that falls the entire distance of Mt. Phiddle. As a young warble, I was afraid to cross this stream. But the best Warblenuts trees are on the other side. One day, all my friends crossed the stream, but I was too scared. They asked me if I was coming across and I said I didn’t want any Warblenuts. Which was a lie. My fear of crossing the stream was ruining my life, and it was unnecessary. The stream is not deep and warbles are natural swimmers. I just needed to trust my instincts.
Several weeks later, I took a deep breath and waded into the stream. I crossed it with no problem. I felt a huge relief that I had conquered my fear.”
Moppyback didn’t wait for a reply and walked away. Stroller followed. As they walked, Stroller thought about the story Moppyback just told. She wondered if her fear of flying was unnecessary. She was a bird, after all. Could she trust her instincts like Moppyback did?
Before long, they reached the edge of the mountain. They both looked down, then looked at each other.
“You can do it. You were born to fly,” Moppyback said.
“You really think so?” Stroller asked.
“As sure as warbles are born to sing.”
Stroller looked over the edge again, then back at Moppyback, who just smiled and nodded.
Stroller took a deep breath and jumped. Her heart pounded wildly at first, and she fell a short distance. Then she instinctively opened her wings. The air caught her wings, and she began to fly! She was a little shaky at first, but soon she found herself turning and soaring with ease.
Why didn’t I do this sooner? She thought.
Stroller spent the next half hour enjoying her newfound ability. She was happier than she had ever been. Eventually, she landed at Annabel’s house. Annabel saw her land and came running.
“Did you see? I can fly!” Stroller said.
“I did. I am so happy for you!” Annabel replied.
The next morning, Stroller flew to Phiddleberry Friday. Everyone cheered, and they gave Stroller an extra helping of Phiddleberries.
Stroller no longer needed a hot-air balloon to fly, and the mystery of the bird in the hot-air balloon on the Island of Phiddle soon faded away.