Elephant was walking through the forest when he spied a bright patch of color on the trail before him. He stopped and looked more closely. It was Hummingbird, lying on her back in the middle of the path, with her tiny legs high up in the air.
“Hummingbird! I almost stepped on you!” said Elephant.
“I’m sorry,” said Hummingbird. “But I heard the sky was going to fall today, and I wanted to be ready.”
“Ready?” asked Elephant.
“Yes. To hold up the sky,” said Hummingbird.
Elephant laughed. “Do you you think you could hold up the sky with those skinny little legs?”
“Not all alone,” admitted Hummingbird, “but I’m ready to do my part.”
Elephant looked down at the little bird. And he thought. And he nodded. Then he lowered himself slowly down onto his knees, rolled over onto his back, and into the air went four big legs, and a trunk.
–a tale from China–
“Holding Up the Sky” is retold from Margaret Read MacDonald’s Peace Tales: World Folktales to Talk About.
© 2016, words and photograph, Naomi Baltuck, All rights reserved; photo as indicted in the hallmark