Deep into winter, everyone was cozy. The Spanakopiti found indoor tasks to occupy their hands and minds. The Zom put their feet up by their charcoal fires and smiled. Bang!opolis went here and there, throwing large bolts as it pleased him. Spanakopitae fawned over Schnaphaunce, to whom she had become quite attached.

The DrizzleMasters were well pleased with the depth of the snow and the density of the fog and the occasional fury of the Venturi-driven wind. They had promised a truly Premier Winter, and this one was certainly measuring up. In fact, it was going SO well that their efforts had come to the attention of the higher-ups (though the DrizzleMasters don't like to admit that there are higher-ups), the Flocculators, who range over solar systems and galaxies.

Because of this favorable attention, the DrizzleMasters hoped they might be in for a promotion. If that happened, the lower-downs, the Dripples, would move up to become the new DrizzleMasters.

There was only one very minor flaw in the plans. The DrizzleMasters needed a new fan to gently stir the air over Wraith Lake. Bang!opolis wandered by one day and heard them discussing whether or not to invest the twenty-six bucks it would cost.

"Why do you need a fan?" he asked. "Why not just call in the Venturi?"

"Humph," said the chief DrizzleMaster. "You try calling the Venturi for a little snort--you'll be hanging onto your hat!"

And so for a time, and a time, and yet a time, the land of the Crow 'n Bear was covered with snow. And then one day the sun came out, and its brightness glinting on the snow brought the appearance of new people, the Drippleoptics, a subset of the DrizzleMasters. The Drippleoptics have heads of ice and feet of splash. Their sway is from eaves to stoop, from bough to bower. In the sunlight, they glisten prismatically. They gather in freshets that race to the stream.

When the Drippleoptics appear, spring cannot be far behind.

15: Fiesta!