Monday, May 30, 2011

Fetching Summer


Waking up to about a million birds outside my window this morning, singing the (6am!) praises of sun brought the realization that maybe, just maybe, it will be dry today.
Here is a Native Indian tale of a little boy for whom summer is a necessity and with whom I can completely relate!

Saq, saq, so long ago. The People are living in twenty wigwams, down below the mountain. Above them on the mountaintops, are the camps of the Bear Persons. Above them on the mountaintops are the camps of the Kukwesk Persons. But the People live down below.
They are working all the time. They hunt moose, they hunt deer and fox and all kinds of animals with furs. The People make canoes and moccasins and baskets, snowshoes and tools and the wooden cradles for carrying the babies. The People are working all the time.
And the people die. When they die, their kin-friends smoke their flesh and cover them with birch bark, all sewed up, so that not a hair can fall out, so that nothing can get in. Then they would bury them. Their kin-friends would put sticks of lamkisn foxfire, near them, so that they would have light in the dark.
Down below the mountain is a family of the People. The old man dies. The old woman dies. All that is left are the children: one daughter, three older boys, and a small baby boy. This little boy grows to be about four years old, and one evening he is talking to his sister. He is saying, "Where is our mother? Where is our father?"
And at last his sister tells him,"Our mother is dead. Our father is dead." She tells him about death, she tells him what happens when death comes to the People.
Now this little boy is getting very sad. He is lonely for his mother and his father, and he begins to cry. This little boy cries for two days without stopping. And at last his sister says to one of his older brothers, "You had better go up on the mountain, and fetch Muini'skw. Fetch one of those Old Bear Women. Tell her we need her to come down and make our little brother stop crying."
So the older boy climbs the mountain. He finds one of the Muini'skwaq, and he says to her, "Come down to help my sister. The baby will not stop crying about our mother and father."
"E'e," says Muini'skw, "I will come."
That Muini'skw comes down off the mountain. She leaves her own two little behind up there, and she comes to the wigwam where the human child is crying. She takes that child up in her lap and begins to rock him.
Muini'skw is singing, singing to the human child. She sings, "Pa pa pa, pa pa po."
And that little boy finally falls asleep. But int he morning, when he wakes up again, once more he begins to cry. It is the middle of winter, and all across the drifts of snow and the patches of ice around that camp of the People, everyone can hear that little boy crying.
"Make him a little bow," says Muini'skw to his older brothers. "Make him some little arrows to play with. Perhaps that will dry up his tears."
So they get wood and shape it. They smooth it and shape it. They make a tiny bow and string it with sinew. They make him some tiny little arrows. But still this child will not stop crying. Muini'skw is rocking him on her lap, and finally she says to him, "My little son, what would make you stop crying?"
"I want to be warm," he says to her. "I want it to be summer. If you made it be summer, with little birds and flowers, the I could stop crying."
Muini'skw calls his three older brothers. Tities, Blue Jay. Kwimu, Loon. Kiunik, Otter. She calls them, all three of them and tells them, "You must go and fetch Summer to your younger brother."
"How shall we do this thing?" they are asking her.
"I will tell you," says Muini'skw. Muini'skw has Power. "You must take three big hide bags. You must travel far to the west, to the place where the Sky is burning, where the air is hot. You must ask Sky to help you."
Those three brothers are journeying far to the west. It is getting hotter and hotter. The air is burning, the Sky is burning. These three brothers open their hide bags.
"Help us, O Sky," they call out. "Give us Summer. Give us Nipk to take home with us."
Now a Voice is speaking to them. It is Sky. Sky says, "Close your bags quickly. Tie them up tightly. Go to my wigwam over there, and take a few of the plants you see with you. Take a pair of birds of each kind. Take all these things home with you, and when you get there, open your bags again. All my hot air will come out. If you have snow, it will go. If you have ice, it will go. Where ever you are, there will be no snow. Kesik, Winter, it will be gone.
"After all the snow is gone," says Sky, "take out all the little plants and birds and spread them around. Then you will have summer."
These three boys have made a long journey, and now they have come home. They open the hide bags and all the warm air rushes out. The snow begins to melt. Soon it is gone. The ice is gone. Summer has come to the People in the camp below the mountain.
These three brothers make a nice garden, with all those plants and all those little birds, nice little summer birds. Pretty little flowers begin to bloom. And the child comes out of the wigwam and begins to smile.
Old Bear Woman, Muini'skw, she says, "Now I must go home. Your little brother is smiling; he forgets about his mother and father. He will not cry anymore."
That little boy learns to use his bow and his arrows. The People stay in that camp at the foot of the mountain. They go hunting everyday, and that little boy grows up.
That little boy grows up. He learns, he becomes a chief, he wears the shell medal. His People have canoes, they cross the ocean, they explore and see many things.


And now, maybe I can stop crying. Thank you to whomever finally fetched summer!

**This story was taken from a book called "Stories from the Six Worlds: Micmac Legends" by Ruth Holmes Whitehead**
**Drawing taken from "Little Thunder", a film from the National Film Board of Canada**

1 comment:

  1. A lovely way to start the day. Thanks a this.

    ReplyDelete