Clouds and Whales

By Linda Porter Carlyle

Joseph Anderson Donetti opened the kitchen door and stepped out onto the back porch. Puffy white clouds floated in the blue spring sky overhead. One of them looked exactly like a long, fat whale. Joseph grinned to himself. A long, fat whale, swimming in the sky. At least the color was right. Blue sky. Blue ocean.

Mac’s back door slammed. Mac raced across the damp grass. “I’m jealous!” she exclaimed. “I have to leave for school, and you aren’t even dressed! I wish I could stay home and do my schoolwork in my pajamas!”

Joseph looked down at his ratty shorts and T-shirt. “Who says these are my pajamas?” he said. “Maybe I’m dressed, and this is what I picked out to wear today.”

“G.M. would never let you out of the house in that outfit!” Mac sniffed.

Joseph laughed.

Mrs. Evans came out of the house with the car keys in her hand. Mac raced home. “I’ll see you after school!” she called.

Joseph walked back into the kitchen. “There’s a whale in the sky,” he told G.M.

“I guess that’s something I ought to see!” G.M. replied. She stepped out onto the porch and looked up. “I love clouds,” she said, coming back into the house. “Are you still interested in studying clouds for science this week?”

“Yes,” Joseph answered. “We have better clouds here in Oregon than we did in my old neighborhood,” he said. “I wonder why.”

“Well, maybe you’ll find out,” G.M. answered. “You know what? I think it would be fun to visit a weather station. Or maybe a television newsroom and talk to a weather person.”

“Could we really talk to a TV weather person?” Joseph asked. “That would be fun!”

“I’m sure we could,” G.M. answered. “I’d like that too. I’ve always secretly wanted to be a meteorologist. That’s the fancy name for the weather person,” she added.

Joseph grinned. He was quite sure he had the funniest grandmother in the world. He didn’t know anybody else whose grandmother said she was tired of cooking, and secretly wanted to be a weather reporter on TV, and had once seriously thought about painting her bedroom walls purple.

Joseph sat down at the kitchen table. He opened his Primary Treasure and turned to the Sabbath School lesson. He had decided on New Year’s Day that it would be a good idea to study his lesson while he ate breakfast. That way he wouldn’t forget it if he were really tired at night. “Hey!” he exclaimed. “My lesson is about clouds too. Well, about a cloud. It’s about the cloud God sent to lead the children of Israel through the desert.”

“Sometimes life just fits together,” G.M. commented as she set a plate of toast in front of him. “Not often. But sometimes.”        

Joseph reached for the peanut butter. “I wonder what the cloud looked like—the cloud that led the Israelites, I mean.”

“Probably not like a whale,” G.M. teased.

“It probably was a really, really tall pillar,” Joseph said, imagining.

“It probably was pretty big,” G.M. agreed. “There were maybe as many as three million Israelites traveling to the Promised Land. That’s even more than all the people in our whole valley put together. But the cloud was more than just a pillar. The Bible tells us that it provided shade for God’s people from the hot desert sun. So it must have been a huge, huge cloud shading them all.”

“That would be so awesome to see!” Joseph exclaimed. “Then when God was leading them to a new place, they had to hurry and get under the cloud so they could keep their shade!”

G.M. laughed. “You’re right!” she said. “Life was much better for the Children of Israel if they obeyed God and followed where He wanted to lead them.”

“You told me that’s why God wants us to obey Him. He doesn’t want us to get hurt,” Joseph said. He poked a piece of peanut butter-

covered toast into his mouth. He chewed, and chewed, and did not talk.

G.M.’s eyes twinkled. “You’re learning not to talk with your mouth full!” she exclaimed. “Praise the Lord!”

Joseph grinned back at her. He swallowed. “Do you think the cloud of God was more like a cumulus cloud or an altostratus cloud?” he asked.

G.M. looked impressed. “Have you, by any chance, been reading about clouds already?”

Joseph nodded.

G.M. looked around. “Where’s the phone book?” she asked. “I’d better call the TV station right now so there will still be something left for you to learn when we go to meet the weather person!”

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