It was a beautiful late August evening and Crowley was flying home for the night. He flew along the Vancouver Island coastline, just north of Campbell River. There was a warm breeze blowing and not a cloud in the sky. It had been a great summer with lots of sunshine and warm temperatures. The only concern now was that the forest was very dry and at risk for a wild fire. One could easily be sparked by lightning or careless human behaviour. But at this time everything was looking good as Crowley glided into his nest, high up on a big old Douglas Fir tree.
After supper Crowley thought to himself it would be great to have one final get together with his best friends, before the summer came to an end. He thought maybe an overnight campout on the beach would be fun. He picked up his smart phone and called his good friend, Windy Winnie.
“Yo, Winnie, you big bag of wind! Ha ha! How are you doing? Crowley here,” said Crowley. “Hey, nice to hear from you Crowley. How are things?” asked Winnie. “Just Great!” replied Crowley. “I was wondering if you would be interested in a campout on the beach tomorrow. We can all bring something to eat and drink and have a good visit.”
Winnie replied, “Great idea, but I don’t think we can have a campfire because the forest is so dry. I can bring a big pot of my chilli and some homemade buns.” “Sounds delicious. I think I will call Babe and Dripley too, and see if they are available to join us,” said Crowley. “Good idea. Lets camp out at that private beach where Babe usually hangs out, just south of Sayward,” said Winnie. “Ok, see you tomorrow around 1:00 pm, and bring lots of chilli. Maybe I will bring some sardines, crackers, pickles and cheese.” said Crowley.
Then Crowley called Dripley. “Hey you big Drip, how are you doing? Crowley here,” said Crowley. “Oh, my fine feathered friend Crowley. Nice to hear from you, it has been a while. How are things?” asked Dripley.
“Everything is just fine Dripley. I was talking to Winnie and we thought it would be a good idea to have a final little campout party. You know, on the beach, just before the end of summer. Winnie is bringing some chilli and we thought maybe if you could join us you can bring your world famous homemade watermelon Cheese Cake,” said Crowley. “Wow, sounds like a plan! For sure I will be there. Where and when should I arrive?” inquired Dripley. “Tomorrow at 1:00 pm on the beach where Babe the Beluga usually hangs out. You know the place just south of Sayward?” asked Crowley. “Oh yah, I spend a lot of time there in the winter. It rains pretty heavy up there. See you tomorrow, and thanks for the invite!” said Dripley.
Then Crowley called Babe. “Hey you big Beluga, Crowley calling. How the heck are you?” “Is this really the Big Black Bird in the sky? Wow, it has been a long time. Nice to hear from you, so what’s up?” asked Babe.
“Well Winnie, Dripley and I were wondering if you would be interested in joining us for a campout on the beach, to kind of celebrate the end of summer. We were each going to bring something to eat and drink and have a good visit,” said Crowley. “I’m in, for sure! I could bring some seaweed cakes, and a pasta salad. Do you want to have it at my private beach, just south of Sayward?” asked Babe. “Yup, that is what I was figuring as it would be best for everyone if it is ok with you. Then great, see you there at 1:00 pm tomorrow,” said Crowley.
Crowley snuggled down into his nest and fell fast asleep, dreaming about the good time he would be having with his friends on the beach, at the camp out tomorrow. Just before falling asleep he opened one eye, and saw the moon coming up over the mountains and stars twinkling in the sky above. He then fell into a deep sleep.
The next day Crowley woke up to another beautiful, sunny hot morning. He packed a few things for the camping trip and then flew off towards the planned campsite on the beach. A few hours later he was high overhead and could see the ocean and the waves crashing onto the sandy beach below. He glided down and landed softly on the beach.
He then quickly began to set up an umbrella to protect everyone from the glaring hot sun. As he gazed skyward he saw one fluffy white cloud blowing across the sky.
Then he felt a drip of water on his beak and heard, “Surprise! It’s me, Dripley! Nice to see you Crowley”, said Dripley, as he rolled off of Crowley’s beak and onto the sand. “Hey, great to see you too, old buddy!” said Crowley. Then Crowley and Dripley stored their food and drinks in a cooler that Crowley made after he dug out a hole in the sand.
A sudden big gust of wind blew over the sun umbrella that Crowley and Dripley were laying under. Before they could chase after the umbrella to bring it back they heard a big laugh. “Gotcha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha!
Were you guys sleeping or what? Time to party,” said Winnie. “Welcome, welcome, nice to see you Winnie” said Crowley and Dripley. All three buddies hugged briefly before they retrieved the umbrella and set it up again. Winnie placed her chilli and buns in the cooler. They all relaxed and began to visit.
Suddenly a big burst of water landed on the umbrella, soaking it and making it roll away. Then another spray of water came and drenched Dripley, Crowley and Winnie. They looked up to the sky, but there were no clouds. They wondered where the water was coming from. Then they heard a big splash out in the ocean and saw Babe smiling and laughing.
“Sorry about giving you guys a shower, but I thought I should wake you up. Ha ha ha,” laughed Babe. Then Babe swam up to the shoreline and all four friends hugged each other. “Hey, this is a great idea you had Crowley,” said Babe. “My private beach area is perfect for me as the water is deep enough close to shore that I can visit and party with you but still keep cool in the water.” Crowley then took Babe’s Seaweed Cakes and pasta salad and placed them in the sand cooler.
For the rest of the afternoon all four friends laughed and dined and visited with each other until dark. Crowley said, “Too bad we couldn’t have a camp fire so we could roast some hot dogs and marshmallows.” Winnie replied, “It has been such a hot, dry summer, that the Forest Fire Risk is Extreme. I think the whole Island is under a camp fire ban until further notice. The forest is so tinder dry.”
Then all the friends took turns telling stories about the adventures they had in the previous years. Crowley finished his piece of watermelon cheesecake and began, “I remember the time that I got lost in a snow storm over Campbell River, and was helped by a little girl named Kayley. My wing was broken so she fed me, gave me a place to sleep and we became great friends.
I remember she used to carry me around her house in a back pack so her Mom wouldn’t find me. We watched videos, TV shows and played games. Then one day some older crows came by and told me I had to go home as my parents were worried about me.” He continued, “Years later I was flying over Campbell River with a bunch of my friends, when I spotted Kayley being harassed by a vicious dog. So my buddies and I swooped down and chased that mean dog away and saved Kayley from getting injured. We then escorted her safely home. I guess that was my way of saying, Thank You Kayley, for looking after me when I was injured.”
Dripley put down his cheese and cracker for a minute and related a little memory too.
“Once I fell from a cloud and landed on a little girls arm. She was also named Kayley. Kayley and I became good friends and I explained things about clouds and rain drops. I also told her of the adventures I faced on a daily basis. We had a good visit and then she helped me out to the sun again so I could rejoin my friends in the clouds.” Crowley and Dripley wondered if Kayley was the same girl that they both had met.
Then Babe gulped down another bowl of chilli and said, “I was once rescued after a fierce winter storm blew me out of the water and buried me in sand on a beach. I was found by two little girls, one named Kamma and the other Elsa. They dug me out and helped me back into the ocean.
Then they also assisted in finding my family. If it wasn’t for the girls’ help, I might not be here today.” “Wow, you were lucky the girls found you,” said Winnie, Dripley and Crowley.
Winnie put down her cheese bun and also told a story. She said, “Once I was accidentally blown into a little girls bedroom through an open window. Her name was Hannah. We became good friends and I explained what wind is and how it works. During our visit I received an emergency call from the Campbell River Airport.”
Winnie suddenly stopped talking as she thought she heard a strange sound. Just then there was a loud muffled explosion noise and big bubbles were seen coming to the surface from where Babe was sitting in the water. “Oops, sorry Guys,” said Babe, “I think I might have had too much chilli.” A very unpleasant odour of refined chilli and previously digested seafood made its way toward the other three friends. Winnie, Dripley and Crowley all held their noses momentarily until the smell passed by them. “Sorry Winnie, continue with your story,” said Babe.
“Well anyways, the call from the airport was that there was a thick fog on the runway, making it impossible for planes to find the locator beacon. They wanted me to get out there as soon as possible and blow it away so the planes would be able to land safely. But on top of that there was this Chinese Boeing 747 with 350 people on board that was circling above the airport at 35,000 feet. It got damaged in a storm and lost all electrical power and communication. It had no way to navigate through the fog and find the airport. It was also just about out of fuel too,” Winnie explained. “Yikes, scary stuff” said Crowley.
Winnie continued, “I could clear the runway of fog but the plane in distress had me worried and I didn’t know what to do. As it turned out, Hannah, the girl whose bedroom that I blew into, was with me. She wanted to see the way I work, and was riding on me. She suggested a plan and pleaded with me to take her back to her bedroom as soon as possible. So, with no other option available I blew myself and Hannah back into her bedroom.
What happened next, you guys are not going to believe! Once back in Hannah’s bedroom, she seemed to take charge of the situation. She told me to get on her bed with her. Then she told me to hang on tight. She leaned back on the bed, clenched her fists and the bed began to fly right through the wall of the house and up into the night sky!”
“No Way!” yelled Crowley and Dripley. Winnie went on with her story. “Yes, I was in shock too and couldn’t believe it, but I was on a flying bed. We flew very fast up towards where Hannah thought the Chinese Airplane was stranded. The bed frame rattled and all the bed sheets blew off. I don’t know how, but Hannah managed to locate the airliner in amongst the dense fog and darkness of the night.
The plane had no lights and was now out of fuel. Hannah signalled to the pilot to follow her and she led the plane to the airport. Just prior to the plane landing, I blew the fog off the runway again and the plane glided to a safe landing and no one was injured,” finished Winnie. “Fantastic!” yelled Babe, Crowley and Dripley.
It was now after midnight and the four friends were getting tired. They were full of food and with the fresh ocean air and sound of the surf they all fell asleep.
About an hour later they were awoken by a loud roar and thundering noise. Crowley called out, “Babe! No more chilli for you!” Babe answered, “That wasn’t me this time Crowley. I was sleeping. I heard the roar sound too.” Then Dripley said, “Hey guys, look up in the sky over by the mountains.
There are huge black clouds with thunder and lightning over there!” Then Crowley said, “Oh Oh, I hope the lightning doesn’t cause any forest fires as the woods are so dry right now.” The four friends snuggled back into their sleeping bags and drifted back to sleep.
It then got very quiet as the storm seemed to pass by to the east and out to sea. About 2 hours later Crowley awoke from his sleep. He could smell smoke and saw flames burning up in the mountains, about 3 kilometres away.
He yelled, “Fire! Fire! Wake up you guys, there is a forest fire heading our way! The lightning must have started it last night!” Dripley yelled, “Oh no, it is heading towards a Children’s Nature Campsite. I floated over it yesterday and there were about 300 kids and their leaders staying in cabins down by a small lake. The fire will cut off their escape route. Water bombers and fire crews won’t be able to get to the fire until it is too late.” Just then Crowley got an idea.
Crowley said, “Ok guys, it is up to us to put this fire out before it gets to the Children’s Nature Campsite and causes any injuries to the kids or leaders. Babe, I want you to swim as fast as you can, get all your friends and then head up to the shoreline near the fire. Then have everyone spout out water onto the fire and the trees, just in front of the fire. Babe yelled, “I am on my way! Wish me luck!”
Then Crowley said, “Dripley, gather up your cloud friends and provide some heavy duty rain showers over the leading edge of the fire to cool things off. Especially around the Children’s Nature Campsite.” Dripley yelled back, “Done! I’m heading up back to my cloud right now. Talk to you later, good luck guys!”
Then Crowley turned to Winnie. “Winnie, I need you to blow as hard as you can, directly at the fire, to push the flames and smoke back towards the ocean and away from the Children’s Campsite. Once it gets close to the ocean hopefully Babe and her friends can douse the flames with all the sea water they are spouting.” Winnie said, “Good idea! I am on my way!”
Crowley then yelled at Winnie as she was leaving, “I am going to get a bunch of my crow friends and we are going to act as water bombers over the fire. I noticed a bunch of big clam shells down by the beach. We can fill them up with water and dump it on the flames!” Winnie turned her head as she was heading up over a tree and yelled back to Crowley, “Good thinking Crowley. Good luck to all of us!”
Over the next few hours Babe and her friends continued to drench the forest, coastline and leading edge of the fire. Winnie blew hard pushing the fire away from the Children’s Campsite and towards the ocean where Babe was soaking it with water. Dripley and his cloud friends provided cooling relief raindrops and mist in and around the Children’s Campsite and towards the leading edge of the fire. Crowley and his flock of hundreds of crows kept up their procession of team work flying clam shell loads of water from the ocean and dropping it on the fire.
A few hours later the fire was out! The sun was now coming up and it was another beautiful day. Crowley circled high above the once roaring forest fire and looked down on it. All he could see was just smoke and wet ash. The Children’s Nature Campsite and cabins were not damaged, although it got pretty smoky there for awhile. Crowley flew back to their campsite on the beach and met up with Winnie, Dripley and Babe, who had also returned.
They all shook hands and gave each other a hug. “Good Job Guys,” said Crowley. Just then a fleet of Water Bombers were seen flying overhead in the direction of the smoke that was lingering from the fire. Other smaller planes were also seen flying in that direction. Winnie felt that they would pour more water on the ashes to ensure the fire would not start up again. They would also drop in ground crews so they could check for any hot spots.
Babe then said, “Well guys, it was great seeing you all again but I have to head out now, so keep in touch.” Babe then spouted a huge burst of water in the air and dove deep into the ocean and swam out of sight.
Dripley remarked, “It’s getting hot. I had a great time, let’s do it again sometime, take care.” Then Dripley slowly faded into mist and evaporated up into a huge white fluffy cloud.
“Well Crowley. Yes, it was an adventurous fun packed visit for sure, I too must be on my way, all the best!” said Winnie. Crowley watched as Winnie blew across the sandy beach up and over the trees and high into the sky.
Crowley stood alone on the beach for a moment thinking about all the good times and adventures he and his friends have had. He wiped a small tear from his eye. He then packed up his gear and slowly flew off towards home.