The Mud Portrait
Donk the moose watched as his friend’s BubbleBus appeared in the air and floated toward the ground. It was one of his favourite sights because it meant his best friend Dink was visiting again from Husharoon.
When Dink stepped onto Earth, she expected to hear the familiar crunch of snow under her feet. Instead, she heard...
Dink blinked her eyes in surprise. Everything looked different to her. She was used to the ground being blindingly white. Now it was brown with some small patches of snow here and there.
“Where’s all the snow?!” she asked.
“It rained last night,” said Donk. “And the air is warmer. So, do you know what that means?”
Dink shook her head.
“Mud season!” Donk proclaimed.
On Husharoon, it’s room temperature all year round. The idea of “seasons” was new to her.
“It’s great!” said Donk. “When it gets warmer, the snow begins to melt. The water turns the ground into squidgy, gloopy mud! Watch this!”
Lifting his legs high in the air, Donk trotted through a large patch of mud.
*SQUELCH SQUIRCH! SQUELCH SQUIRCH! SQUELCH SQUIRCH!*
Dink giggled at the noises her moose friend was making.
“You try it!” Donk called out. “Run as fast as you can!”
Dink tried to dash across a patch of thick mud, but it was impossible. The mud was too gloopy.
*SPLOP! SPLUP! SPLOP! SPLUP!*
Before long, Donk and Dink were having a squelching contest. They stomped in the mud to see who could make the loudest sounds.
*SPLAP SPLOP! SQUIRCH SQUAWTCH!*
Both of them were laughing so much, they almost fell over in the mud. Finally, Donk did a running jump to make the loudest sound possible. His hooves landed with a *KA-SPLOOP!* in the thick, oozy mud. Dink dove out of the way as a large glob of mud flew towards her.
The glob splattered behind her on a tall, flat rock.
“Wow!” said Donk. “Look at what the mud did!”
Donk and Dink took a closer look at the rock. The mud was drying into an interesting design.
“It looks like a duck!” said Donk. “Can you see it?!”
Dink squinted. It did look a bit like a duck.
Suddenly Donk began rubbing out the design with his nose. He spat on it every now and then to help remove the mud.
“Donk! What are you doing?!”
“I just got a great idea!” said Donk. “With this rock as a canvas, you can paint my portrait! With mud! When it dries, the picture of me will be here for weeks! Maybe even years!”
Donk seemed very excited by the thought.
“I’ve always wanted my portrait painted!” said Donk. “Please, will you do it? Pretty please?”
Dink didn’t think she was very good at painting. But before she could say “no,” Donk was already posing. He stood on his hind legs, shielded his eyes with a hoof and stared heroically towards the horizon.
“What do you think of this pose, Dink? I’m like a heroic sea captain!”
Before Dink could respond, Donk said, “Ooh! Or how about this one?!”
Donk balanced on one hind leg and froze in place, as if he were a moose ballet dancer.
“Um, okay,” said Dink.
Dink found a stick on the ground. She twirled one end of it in some mud, and then used it like a paintbrush. She painted Donk’s head first. In the middle of painting Donk’s two antlers, Dink suddenly heard a voice behind her.
“Hmm...I don’t know about that,” said the voice.
It was Tom the musk ox, standing right behind her. Donk, still balancing on one hoof, called out,“Don’t know about what, Tom?”
Tom tilted his head and squinted at Dink’s painting.
“Your nose looks a little funny in this picture.”
“Funny?” said Donk, nervously. “Funny, how?!”
The picture was facing away from Donk. Donk didn’t want to leave his pose, so he couldn't see the picture. But Donk was hoping he would look good in the picture, since it would be on the rock for a long time.
Dink painted more mud. “Don’t worry, Donk. I’m still working on the portrait! Don’t move!”
But Donk couldn’t stay still. He had to see how the picture was coming along. He left his pose and came to look at the picture. Then he announced, “I look too much like a glob of mud.”
“Well, Donk,” said Dink, “what did you expect!? I’m painting with mud!”
Donk said he was pretty sure he would be a better mud-painter. Dink said she was pretty sure he wouldn’t.
“If I wasn’t so busy posing,” said Donk, “I’d be painting all kinds of things!”
“Well be my guest!” said Dink, huffily. She handed Donk her painting stick.
“Hmm,” said Donk, looking around. “What should I paint?”
“Ooh!” said Tom. “Paint me! The rain last night made my fur extra clean and shiny!”
Tom galloped over to where Donk had been posing. Then he stood very still. Without moving his mouth, he said, “I’m ready!”
Donk swirled some mud on the painting stick and said, “Stand back, Dink, and watch the master.”
Dink folded her arms grumpily. She watched the moose fling mud towards the rock. But the mud flew past the rock and landed on Tom’s face instead.
“Hey!” said Tom angrily. “Now I’m all muddy!”
Dink couldn’t help grinning. But Tom was so annoyed, he scooped up some mud in his hooves and flung it at Donk. But Donk ducked.
The mud plopped all over Dink. Donk gasped.
“Dink!” said Donk. “Are you going to let Tom get away with that?!”
Dink shook her head. She grabbed a handful of mud and threw it at Tom.
The mud didn’t hit Tom. It accidentally hit Donk’s antlers and dripped down over Donk’s head.
Tom couldn’t help but laugh. Donk and Dink couldn’t help but laugh too. Soon mud and laughter were flying everywhere! But the laughter suddenly stopped when...
A big handful of mud splattered all over the clean, white coat of...a polar bear.
“Uh oh,” whispered Tom. “Polar bears don’t like to be muddy.”
The polar bear looked like it didn’t like being muddy. At all.
“Run!” yelled Donk.
Dink climbed onto Donk’s back. Donk and Tom galloped across the muddy plain as fast as they could. The polar bear galloped right behind them. Thankfully, moose and musk oxen can run faster than polar bears.
“Look!” said Dink from on top of Donk’s back. “The bear’s falling further behind us!”
“Yeah, but look,” said Donk, pointing nervously with his antlers. “We’re headed straight for the sea!”
It was true. Donk, Dink and Tom were almost at the edge of the freezing sea, with the polar bear coming straight for them! They were trapped!
The polar bear got closer, and closer and...
Ran right past them, then jumped into the water. The polar bear didn’t want to attack them. It just wanted to wash off the mud!
“Phew!” said Dink, Donk and Tom at the same time.
Dink had a jam-packed, mud-packed day! Now it was time to go home.
“But I can’t go home like this!” said a very-muddy Dink. “Is there a towel I can use to wipe off some of this mud?”
“Hmm,” thought Tom. “There is a patch of moss over by the side of that mountain. It’s not exactly a towel, but maybe we can roll around on it until the mud comes off.”
It wasn’t a great idea, but it was their only idea. So Dink, Donk and Tom walked over to the moss patch.
“Tom,” said Dink. “That moss patch looks awfully muddy.”
Tom plopped onto his back and wiggled around. Donk couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
“Tom!” yelled Donk. “You’re only getting muddier!”
Suddenly, the three of them heard a rumble above their heads. Donk had been yelling so loudly at Tom that his voice dislodged a shelf of unmelted snow directly above them.
The snow fell right on top of them. But they were only buried for a moment. They poked their heads up and looked at each other.
“We’re not muddy anymore!”.
“Nothing’s better than a snow bath for getting clean!” said Donk.
Back at the BubbleBus, Dink promised Donk she would practise painting moose at home. Next time she came back to Earth, she’d be ready to paint a better mud-picture.
Donk and Tom gave Dink shaggy hugs. Then Dink climbed into her BubbleBus and...*POP!* She was gone.