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Canadian folktale : How Glooskap Made the Birds

Read Canadian fairy tales and legends from Cyrus MacMillans’ collection of Canadian Fairy Tales.

Canadian Fairy Tales, How Glooskap Made the Birds

Once upon a time long before the white men came into Canada there lived a wicked beast who caused great trouble and sorrow wherever he went. Guys called him Wolf-Wind. Where he was born no man understands, but his residence was in the Cave of the Winds, far in the north country in the Night-Night Land, and there guys knew that he had been hiding on calm days once the sun was hot and the sea was still, and on quiet nights if not a leaf or a flower or a blade of grass was stirring. But whenever he appeared, the great trees cracked in dread and the small trees trembled along with the blossoms bent their heads close to the earth, trying to conceal from his existence. Frequently he came upon them with no warning and with little indication of his forthcoming. And then the corn fell flat to not rise again, and tall trees crashed in the forest, and the blossoms dropped dead because of their terror; and often the great waters grew white and moaned or screamed loudly or dashed themselves against the rocks attempting to escape from Wolf-Wind. And in the shadow of this night when Wolf-Wind howled, there was great fear upon all the earth.

Canadian Folktale
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It occurred once in those previous days that Wolf-Wind was at a excellent rage, and he went forth to kill and devour all who dared to come in his path. It chanced in that time that lots of Indian households were living near the sea. The people were fishing far off the coast. They were catching fish to make food for the winter. They went really far away in tiny canoes, for the sea had long been still and they thought there wasn't any danger. The little kids were alone on coast. Suddenly as the sun went down, with no indication of his coming, out of the north came Wolf-Wind in his amazing rage looking for prey, and roaring loudly as he arrived. "I am Wolf-Wind, the giant," he howled, "cross not my path, for I will kill all the people I meet, and eat them all up." His anger only grew as he stalked along, and he splashed and tossed the waters apart from his fury because he came down upon the fishermen and fisher-women far out to sea. The fishers had no opportunity to escape his reach or to throw into the shore, so fast was Wolf-Wind's coming, and the giant caught them in his route and broke up their boats and killed them all. All night long he raged over the sea looking for more fishers.

At the morning Wolf-Wind's anger was not yet spent. Far away before him he saw the little children of the fishers playing on the shore. He understood they were lonely, for he had murdered their mothers and fathers. He solved to catch them and kill them too, and after them he went, still in a terrific rage. He went quickly towards the territory, roaring as he travelled and dashing the seas against the rocks in his madness. But the children heard him and they hurried away as fast as they could, and they hid in a cave among the amazing rocks and placed a huge stone at the mouth of their cave and Wolf-Wind couldn't get in. He howled loudly at the door all day and all night long, but the stone was strong and he could not break it down. Then he went on his way nevertheless quite angry and still roaring, and he howled, "I will come back and catch you yet.

The kids were very frightened and they remained long at the cave after Wolf-Wind had gone, for far away they might still hear him howling and crashing into the woods. They then came out. They understood that Wolf-Wind had murdered their mothers and dads on the sea. They ran away into the woods, for they thought that there they'd be safe. They went to the Willow-Willow Land where they found a nice place with grass and flowers as well as flows. And between them and the north country where Wolf-Wind dwelt were lots of great trees with thick foliage which they knew would shield them by the giant.

But one afternoon Wolf-Wind, true to his promise, came again in a rage to find them. He came to the land killing all he fulfilled in his route. However he could not catch the kids, for the trees with their thick foliage kept him away. They heard him howling in the forest far distant. For many days in summer time he tried to locate them but their home was near the trees, along with the fantastic branches spread them over along with the thick leaves saved them, and only sunlight from the southwest, coming out of the Summer-Flower country, would appear in upon them. Try as he could with all his might aged Wolf-Wind couldn't hurt them although he knew that they were there; and they were constantly secure while they dwelt in the Willow-Willow Land.

Wolf-Wind was more mad than ever because of his failure, for he liked to feed on his little children, and anger knew no bounds. So he came back again and he brought with him to aid him another giant in the north state who had with him a peculiar and strong charm, the Charm of the Frost. Along with the two giants attempted to kill the trees which had saved the little kids. These were the Spruce and the Fir, the Hemlock and the Pine and the Cedar. But about the other trees Wolf-Wind had vengeance because he had pledged. 1 night once the harvest moon was shining at the skies he came with no warning, and with the support of the giant bearing the Charm of the Frost he murdered all the leaves which had kept him in the children, and threw them to the floor. One after one of the leaves came off from the Beech and also the Birch, the Oak and the Maple, the Alder and the Willow. Some fell quickly, some fluttered slowly down, plus some took a long time in dying. However, in the beginning the trees stood cold and empty against the skies and there was stillness and despair in the forest. And Wolf-Wind played and laughed in silence through the leafless branches together with the giant from Night-Night Land. And he said, "Now I have overcome the leaves that kept me away, and now when I please I can kill the children." But the children only moved closer to the strong and rugged trees which had come at first in the far north country and over which the Charm of this Frost had no electricity, and Wolf-Wind couldn't reach them and they had been still for ever safe from the giants.

The children were quite sad when they saw what Wolf-Wind had done to their friends and protectors, the trees. Summer had gone back to the Southland following because she always did the Rainbow Road for her home in the Wilderness of Flowers. It was lonely now from the forest and silent; there was not a whisper from the trees; there were no leaves, for it was fall and Wolf-Wind had murdered them all.

At last it came to this time of year when Glooskap, who dominated upon the ground and was really good in those days, gave his yearly gifts to little kids. And he came to the land on a sled drawn by his loyal dogs to seek out for himself what the kids wished for. And the kids all came to him every requesting a boon. Now Glooskap had good power upon the ground in that old time. He could always do what he willed. And the little kids whom Wolf-Wind had attempted to hurt in his rage came to Glooskap, the Magic Master of gifts, and they were all very sad because the leaves had gone.

Said Glooskap. "We wish nothing for ourselves," said the children, "but we ask that the leaves that were killed by Wolf-Wind because they saved us from his rage be brought back to life and put back again in their old home in the trees." Glooskap was quiet for quite a long time and that he sat and believed was his custom, and he smoked hard at his mighty pipe, because he was a great smoker. Now in that time there were not any tiny forest birds upon the ground, for Glooskap hadn't yet brought them into being. There were just the birds that dwelt close to the sea and over whom Wolf-Wind had no power--Sea-gull and Crane, Wild-duck and Loon, Kingfisher and Brant and Curlew. These just laughed in the giant in his rage and screamed in mockery as they flew from concealed when he came, one of the shallows or the stones or the thick grass in the marshes. And there were likewise the sturdy birds that dwelt with guys and functioned for them, providing them eggs and food. They gave guys food, however they weren't fair to look upon; they waddled together and couldn't fly well and they left no sweet music on the ground, for their song was a quack and a cackle.

Glooskap chose to bring other birds into the world, to not provide food but to bring joy to the kids on the time when summer resides in the land, using their pretty feathers along with their songs that were pleasant. So after he'd eaten in silence he struck upon a plan. And he explained to the kids asking for their yearly presents, "I cannot bring back to the trees the leaves that Wolf-Wind has killed and stripped off, for it is now too late. But I will take the fallen leaves and change them into little birds. And the birds shall never forget how they were born. And they shall all be beautiful in colour like the leaves that gave them birth; and they shall have power to rest at times upon the air like a leaf fluttering; and the voice of the air and the laughing waters shall be in their throats and they shall sing sweet songs for little children. And I will give the trees that Wolf-Wind has stripped power to bring forth new leaves every spring-time so that when Summer comes back from the Wilderness of Flowers the trees shall not be bare. And I will take away much of Wolf-Wind's power so that he can no longer harm little children as wickedly as he has done before."

Glooskap waved his magic wand as was his habit, and in once great flocks of little birds sprang from the ground where the fallen leaves had lain. Plus they twittered and sang in a fantastic chorus and flew straight back to the trees. They were of beautiful colours like the leaves which had given them birth. There were Robin Red-breasts and Thrushes all brown and reddish, in the red and brown leaves of the Oak. And there were Finches and Humming-birds all yellow and brown and green from the leaves of this Alder and the Willow, and they glowed like willows from the sunlight and fluttered like a leaf upon the air. There were Yellowbirds and Canadian Warblers in the golden Beech and Birch leaves. And there were Scarlet Tanagers and Orioles and Grosbeaks all of changing colors, red and purple and brown, in the leaves of this Canadian Maple. And they all sang to the kids and the children were all very happy again.

Then Glooskap delivered the little birds all off to a warm country until the ruler of the Giant of the Frost from the Night-Night Land was over, for it was chilly in all the land and it was very cold. But at the spring-time the little birds always return in the Summer-Flower Land. And they build their nests among the trees as close as they can to their kindred, the leaves where they came. And all day long they sing among the leaves for small kids. At day-break they wake the kids with their choir of sunrise, and in times they lisp and twitter to lull the kids to sleep. And at night they hide among the leaves out of Wolf-Wind and are very still with never a twitter or even a tune. For they do not forget that they are the children's gift from Glooskap and that they arrived from the leaves stripped from the trees by Wolf-Wind because the leaves saved the little children in the giant long ago.

Author: Cyrus Macmillan
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZyZT0V0w88

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