The Summer Maker
Once upon a time the winter season lasted for so many many months that the people began to wonder if the frozen rivers and deep snows would ever melt. “Will the keen north wind never leave us?” they asked each other anxiously. “What has become of the beautiful warm summer?”
The only person who seemed happy during this long, cold season was Ojeeb, a mighty hunter. He enjoyed the adventure of searching for the big winter game and his eye was so keen and his hand so steady that he never failed to bring abundance of food to his wigwam.
Ojeeb’s little son liked to hunt with his father but the lad suffered much from the bitter cold. Often his fingers became so numb that he could not speed his small arrow skilfully and he would fail in his aim. This always vexed him very much and he would wish for the summer days to come.
One day, when Ojeeb and his son were hunting, the lad became so cold that he was obliged to leave his father and return to the wigwam. When he was hurrying through the woods he heard a squirrel chattering very loud on a pine tree. He stopped for a moment and the squirrel said, “Don’t shoot me. I’m going to tell you a secret. I’ve often heard you wish for summer. The mighty hunter, who is your father, knows how to bring summer back to the earth. When he comes home beg him to send away this bitter cold weather and bring us the warm sunny days.” Off scampered the chattering squirrel, and the lad ran on to his wigwam.
In the evening Ojeeb came home with some excellent game which he showed with pride, but his son took little interest in it. He began to talk about the cruel cold weather. Finally he said, “Father, drive away the keen winds, the frost, and the snow, and bring summer back to the earth. For many months the Red Men have borne the trials of winter. It is hard for some of them to get enough food, for few are as skilful with the bow and arrow as Ojeeb. Send away the cold days and bring us the bright, warm summer again.”
“You are asking me to perform a mighty task,” said Ojeeb, “but I’ll do my best to grant your request. It is true that I know the secret of bringing summer back to the earth.”
The next morning Ojeeb prepared a feast, and invited a number of his animal friends to dine with him. At the appointed time, Otter, Beaver, Lynx, Badger, and Wolverine all came to Ojeeb’s lodge. There they feasted and listened with interest to the mighty hunter’s plan to bring summer back to the earth.
“We shall have to take a long and dangerous journey and perhaps we shall never return to our homes,” he said. “Are you brave enough to help me in this mighty task?”
The animals all said they were willing to follow and help Ojeeb, and begged him to tell them his plan. To their astonishment the hunter said the only way to bring back the summer was to break through the great dome of Sky-Land, and free the summer birds which were imprisoned there.
“But how shall we reach Sky-Land?” asked the animals in one voice.
“I’ll lead the way,” said the hunter.
The next day they started on the journey to Sky-Land. Ojeeb led the way up a steep, smooth mountain-side. For twenty days they traveled and finally they came to a curious lodge in a hollow. The Mountain Manito lived there. He gave Ojeeb and his animal friends food, and sheltered them until they were refreshed. The hunter told him the object of their coming and the Manito pointed out to them a certain pathway which led to the summit of the mountain. For twenty days more they traveled. They were now high up above the clouds. The blue dome of the sky seemed but a short distance above their heads. They rested for awhile and gazed in silent wonder at the beautiful canopy which separated them from Sky-Land.
Finally Ojeeb said, “Our difficult task is only half done. We must leap up and break through the dome of the Sky and set free the summer birds. This is a mighty task I assure you. The Mountain Manito directed me to say that you, Otter, are to make the first trial.”
Otter was delighted to be chosen first. Without taking due consideration of the great height, he immediately made a bound upward. But, alas! He fell headlong through the air to the mountain-side and rolled down, down to the plain below. The Beaver made the next effort, but he too missed the sky dome and fell with a thud to the earth. Lynx made a great leap and so did Badger but each failed to touch the great dome of the sky.
From The turquoise story book; stories and legends of summer and nature, by Ada M. Skinner and Eleanor L. Skinner.New York: Duffield & Company, 1918.