Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ Sky, clouds, tears and water

Yesterday morning after a restorative week away, Paul and I drove back to London from Pembrokeshire. The clouds in the sky were so incredibly beautiful, they could not have held my attention more had they been painted by the greatest of artists.  We could see staircases and streams, maps of whole continents and the pathways of gentle breezes. Goodness knows why the two stories that follow came back to my mind while watching these clouds. I hadn’t specifically thought about either for a very long time. One is specifically about a boy who loved clouds. The other is about the kind of power I associate with consummate artistry.

Story No. 1:

There was once a boy who loved the clouds. He loved looking up and seeing the extraordinary patterns the clouds sometimes make. He loved to observe the way the clouds move, sometimes drifting very slowly, sometimes scudding across the sky.

Before long, the boy was wishing he could be up in the sky with the clouds. He wished this so hard and for such a long time that the clouds decided to grant his wish. A scudding cloud rushed down to earth and, brushing lightly across the ground, gathered him up and carried him into the sky.

The boy was amazed at how much fun it was, jumping between clouds and running across them, stepping down what looked like stairways and then nestling into the softest cloud for a rest.

But after a while, the boy became sad. There was no-one to talk to up in the sky and, looking down at earth, he began to yearn to be back there. So sad did he become that the clouds decided to grant him his wish. At first when a great big rain cloud gathered him up, the boy could hardly tell the difference between the tears he’d been crying and the great stream of rain-drops that brought him back down to earth.  But when his feet touched the ground, oh was he glad!

Oh boy, was he glad!

Story No. 2:

There was once an artist whose fame came to the attention of his country’s Emperor. But when the Emperor sent a message demanding that the artist attend at his palace with whichever of his paintings he chose to bring, the artist refused the Emperor’s wish. If the Emperor wished to see one of his paintings, he should come to the artist’s studio.

Although the Emperor was not at all pleased by this response, it made him all the more keen to see what the artist was up to. So he went to the artist’s studio and when he entered, he was surprised to see just one painting set up on an easel. He was even more surprised to see that, in his opinion, the painting was extremely dull. It was simply a painting of water.

‘Is that all?’ the Emperor demanded. ‘Just water! Haven’t you got anything better?’

‘Well, I do have other paintings,’ the artist replied, ‘and since you don’t approve of this one, I’ll go and fetch a different one.’

As the artist turned away, the Emperor was surprised to notice drops of water falling from the artist’s easel. Soon, these drops became a veritable stream and as the stream became stronger and rougher and began filling the floor of the studio, the Emperor was even more startled when a boat sailed out of the painting. By now, he was starting to panic and as the studio continued filling with water, he became extremely alarmed when the artist climbed into the boat and called goodbye as he sailed away.

As to what happened to the Emperor, I can only guess.

PS: Since I could never have captured the artistry of yesterday morning’s clouds, my photos today are all associated with water. The first speaks for itself, the second is the kind of strange remains of a creature you often come across on beaches. The fisherman in the bottom picture was photographed against strong sun down at Abereiddi beach.

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