Just the sound of the word "mother" is enough to instigate a flurry of emotions in the heart of anyone. It is said that mothers hold their children's hands for a short while, but their hearts forever. Quite naturally, the word 'mother' has stirred the imagination of many writers since time immemorial, resulting into a great outpouring of emotion, finding its way through literature. Hence, an overwhelming number of short stories have been compiled delineating the bond between a mother and her child or children. "Coming and Going" is one such fine story from "A Child's Story Garden" compiled by Elizabeth Heber. It is a great story about parent birds taking care of their young ones and when winter approaches how these migratory birds fly off in search of summer and sunshine. The love of these parent birds sets an example of ideal parenthood. Here is the complete short story.
There came to our fields a pair of birds that had never built a nest nor seen a winter. How beautiful was everything! The fields were full of flowers and the grass was growing tall, and the bees were humming everywhere. Then one of the birds began singing, and the other bird said, "Who told you to sing?" And he answered, "The flowers told me, and the bees told me, and the winds and leaves told me, and the blue sky told me, and you told me to sing." Then his mate answered, "When did I tell you to sing?" And he said, "Every time you brought in tender grass for the nest, and every time your soft wings fluttered off again for hair and feathers to line the nest." Then his mate said, "What are you singing about?" And he answered, "I am singing about everything and nothing. It is because I am so happy that I sing."
By and by five little speckled eggs were in the nest, and his mate said, "Is there anything in all the world as pretty as my eggs?" Then they both looked down on some people that were passing by and pitied them because they were not birds.
In a week or two, one day, when the father bird came home, the mother bird said, "Oh, what do you think has happened?" "What?" "One of my eggs has been peeping and moving!" Pretty soon another egg moved under her feathers, and then another and another, till five little birds were hatched! Now the father bird sang louder and louder than ever. The mother bird, too, wanted to sing, but she had no time, and she turned her song into work. So hungry were these little birds that it kept both parents busy feeding them. Away each one flew. The moment the little birds heard their wings fluttering among the leaves, five little yellow mouths flew open wide, so that nothing could be seen but five yellow mouths!
"Can anybody be happier?" said the father bird to the mother bird. "We will live in this tree always, for there is no sorrow here. It is a tree that always bears joy."
Soon the little birds were big enough to fly, and great was their parents' joy to see them leave the nest and sit crumpled up upon the branches. There was then a great time, the two old birds talking and chatting to make the young ones go alone! In a little time they had learned to use their own wings, and they flew away and away, and found their own food, and built their own nests, and sang their own songs with joy.
Then the old birds sat silent and looked at each other, until the mother bird said, "Why don't you sing?" And he answered, "I can't sing - I can only think and think." "What are you thinking of?" "I am thinking how everything changes. The leaves are falling off from this tree, and soon there will be no roof over our heads; the flowers are all going; last night there was a frost; almost all the birds have flown away. Something calls me, and I feel as if I would like to fly away."
"Let us fly away together!"
Then they arose silently, and, lifting themselves far up in the air, they looked to the north. Far away they saw the snow coming. They looked to the south. There they saw flowers and green leaves. All day they flew, and all night they flew and flew, till they found a land where there was no winter - where flowers always blossom, and birds always sing.
'Coming and Going' is a simple story of parent birds' love for young ones and how migratory birds fly off to lands of spring and sunshine.