The Story of the Year
Everything has frozen much harder than before! People must have made a mistake in figuring their time!"
"They certainly have," a third added - an old sparrow with a white topknot. "They have a thing they call a calendar, something they invented themselves, and everything has to be arranged according to that, but it doesn't work. The year really begins when the spring comes; that's the way of nature, and that's the way I reckon it."
"But when will spring come?" the others wailed.
"It will come when the stork comes back! But his plans are very uncertain; here in town they don't know anything about them. People out in the country are better informed. Let's fly out there and wait. At least we'll be that much closer to spring."
Now, one of the sparrows who had been hopping about for a long time, chirping, without saying anything very important, spoke up. "That's all very well, but I've found some comforts here in town that I'm afraid I'd miss in the country. In a courtyard quite near here a family of people have had the very sensible idea of placing three or four flowerpots against the wall, with their open ends all turned inward and bottoms pointing out. In each pot they've cut a hole, big enough for me to fly in and out. My husband and I have built a nest in one of those pots, and we have raised all our young ones there.
"Of course, the people just did it to have the fun of watching us; otherwise they surely wouldn't have done it; and to please themselves further they put out crumbs of bread. That gives us food, and thus we are provided for. So I think my husband and I will stay here - though we're very dissatisfied, mind you. Yes, I guess we'll stay."
"But we'll fly out into the country, to see if spring isn't coming," cried the others.
And away they flew.
Now, in the country the winter was still a little harder, and the temperature a few degrees lower, than in town. Sharp winds swept across snow-covered fields. The farmer, his hands muffled in warm mittens, sat in his sleigh with his whip on his knees and beat his arms across his chest to keep himself warm.