"OK kids, snuggle up and Gramps will tell you a story. Don't need no books. This story is sitting right here is this old head of mine. It happened to me right back then when I was knee-high to a grasshopper. Never forgotten it and I never will, not until they put me in a box in the churchyard, next to your Grandma.
Well, it started out a normal enough day. I was up and about good and early and there was no hope of breakfast yet, so I opened the back door quietly and went off down the yard to use the outhouse. None of your fancy en- suites in those days or even indoor plumbing. It was just about light enough to see, if I left the door hanging open a crack. Light enough to have a quick check for spiders or snakes before sitting down to do my business.
When I came out there was still no smell of cooking from the kitchen so I took it into my head to go foraging . It was early in the season but I'd spotted some juicy looking berries the day before. It was mushroom season too and I knew how good a plate of eggs and field mushrooms would go down.
The sun was doing its best to rise, but big grey clouds were gathering faster than the cobwebs collecting in the corners. Your great- grandma never was much of a one for cleaning above eye level. Anyway it looked like rain was on it's way so I thought I'd best get a wriggle on. I set off out the yard and down the lane and my bare feet sent up little puffs of dust from the parched ground.
Pretty soon I came to the bramble patch and stuffed my mouth with berries until the juice ran down my chin. Anyone passing would've thought I was half starved. To tell the truth my stomach was feeling pretty hollow and I kept thinking of the great breakfast I'd be getting if I found those mushrooms.
I climbed the fence into the wood and set off to the shady spot where I knew the mushrooms would be, if only the squirrels hadn't found them first. The sky was getting darker and there was a distant rumble of thunder. A few drops of rain fell but the trees still had most of their autumn leaves and I was sheltered from the worst.
My luck was in. Clustered on the bank were a dozen or so field mushrooms. I pulled them carefully, leaving the roots to carry on growing for another day. That was when I realised I had nothing to carry them in, so I whipped off my shirt and tied them into a bundle, leaving me in just my raggy shorts. The rain was coming down heavier now so I figured to get back home as fast as I could run.
As I left the shelter of the trees I was soaked through in seconds. I scrambled over the fence and that's when I first noticed it. The sky was melting.
You ever done one of those water colour paintings where you get the paper really wet then let the colours run down and spread out? Well that's what seemed to be happening. Where there had been thick grey cloud, a mist of colours appeared across the sky and ran slowly downwards. At the same time they spread sideways so the colours mingled into a curtain of reds, blues and yellows.
The more it rained the more the colours intermingled and now I could see greens, purples and oranges too.
As I stood, I couldn't hardly bear to look around, the sight was so dazzling. Then it dawned on me that the display wasn't stopping with the sky. The colours of the trees started to disolve and the autumn leaves added their fiery hues. The wash darkened as the browns of the trunks and branches changed the palette .The shapes of the trees disappeared as I stared in amazement.
A terrible thought struck me. I turned around. Where our house had stood was just a growing smudge of smoky grey. I looked down to find I was standing in a rapidly deepening puddle of water. It was that ugly shade that you get when you mix every colour in the paint box, with an oily slick of rainbow colours swirling on the top.
Desperately I turned round and round trying to find a solid object in this melting world. There was only me, a tiny, terrifiedl figure, in a fading mass of ever changing colour. I wondered if I was going to wash clean away along with the rest of my universe.
I looked at my arm. A drop of rain splashed onto it and for a moment I thought my skin was starting to turn transparent. I wondered what my bones would look like once all my outside had faded away. The mud coloured water was up to my skinny knees and rising. Perhaps I would drown before I had time to find out.
Suddenly I was aware of a warm wind, like I was standing under one of those blow dryers . The rain slowed to a drizzle then the odd drop. As it stopped the wind seemed to wrap round my shivering body and ruffled my hair. I held my arms out and they looked tanned and covered with bramble scratches. I saw that my shorts had a new tear and thought that my Ma would give me hell when she saw it. Then I remembered. Ma was gone, along with Pa and our house and all the rest of my world.
Perhaps it was the wind, but, I can tell you, my eyes teared up and I was fair set to start howling. Somehow though, the wind felt like a warm pair of arms hugging me tight and I felt safe, like when Ma hugged me goodnight. I clung on to that feeling and blinked the tears away.
The wind kept right on blowing and the water I was standing in started to soak away, until I was standing in nothing more than a muddy puddle. Like a film running backwards the colours began to spread outwards and upwards and, after a while I could make out the shapes of familiar objects, like I was looking through a thick fog. The trees became trunks then gradually the trunks grew branches and the glorious autumn foliage reappeared.
I hardly dared look round but, by the time I'd summoned up my courage, there was the wonderful shape of our house. It was still a bit fuzzy round the edges but as I watched the wind blew the last traces of cloud away and up into the sky. The colours spread and seperated and formed into a glorious rainbow arching across a pale blue sky.
I grabbed my shirt full of mushrooms and ran down the lane as fast as I could. As I neared the house I smelled the heavenly aroma of cooking. Pancakes and eggs. The mushrooms would be just in time to add to the feast. I flew in the door and Ma swept me up in a giant hug.
" What were you thinking of, going out there in that cloud burst?" she scolded, " and what have you done to those shorts?". I hugged her and hung on to her real tight.
" You're soaked through! What have you been doing out in this cloud burst?" she asked.
" Oh, nothing much. Just collecting mushrooms." I poured my treasure onto the table and in minutes Ma had them sizzling away in a pan of lard. I've never enjoyed a breakfast so much in the whole of my life.