Autumnal story.


I love this time of the year because I get to tell my favourite story.

Before people walked the earth Coyote was Chief of all the animals.
Great Spirit had given him some very important news. So he had called a meeting of all the Chiefs of all the animals so that he could share the news with them.

He waited as one by one they arrived at the meeting place in the forest.
Everyone was talking at once as the meeting place slowly filled. The Chiefs did not know why they had been called to meet with Coyote, but they realised that it was important.

When Coyote was sure that all the Chiefs had arrived he slowly stood up and one by one they fell silent.
"I have called you here to share some very important news with you," he began. "Very soon a big freeze will come to this land and it will become so cold that the clouds will shatter and fall as flakes to the ground. It will become so cold that the earth will turn to stone and the water will turn to rock."

Well, immediately, the Chiefs all began talking at once. How were they going to survive such a thing? Coyote rose to his feet again and gradually the Chiefs fell silent.
"I have called you here because I believe, that with your help, we can come up with a solution for each of us."
The Chiefs nodded their heads in agreement.

They talked long into the night and were still talking as the sun rose the next morning. Once again Coyote rose to his feet and the Chiefs fell silent.
"What have you decided to do?" he asked.

The first to stand was the Bear Chief.
"We have decided to eat as much food as we can now, and then just before the big freeze comes, we will find a warm place to rest and sleep until the big freeze has gone."
"Very good," said the Coyote.

The next to stand was one of the Bird Clan Chiefs'.
"My clan have decided that we will fly away from this place just before the big freeze comes, and return when the big freeze has gone."
"Very good," agreed the Coyote.

The Squirrel Chief stood next.
"We have decide that we will collect as much food as we can now, and hide it in stores all over the forest, so that when the big freeze comes we will have enough food to eat."
"An excellent idea," said the Coyote.

The Chief of all the Rabbits stood next and explained that his clan would change their coats in time for the big freeze.

"We shall grow thick white fur, so that we shall be warm and able to hide in the cloud flakes."
The Coyote agreed this was a very good idea.

The Chief of all the Beavers stood next.
"We have decided that we shall build a lodge below the water so that we shall be ready for when the water turns to iron."

The Coyote smiled as he listened to what the Chiefs had to say. By the time the sun was low in the sky he had heard all the Chiefs speak and thanked them for their strength. He wished them all well as, one by one, they left the meeting place to return to their clans and make their preparations for the big freeze.

The Coyote was exhausted. He sat in the empty meeting place and closed his eyes for a moment. As he sat in the silence of the forest he became aware of a faint noise. He listened more closely and realised that it was coming from the ground before him As he looked, he realised that he was looking at the Chiefs of all The Little People. He was shocked to see that they were crying.

"What troubles you?" he asked.
"We do not know what to do when the big freeze comes," they sobbed.
The Coyote was troubled. He thought that he had heard all the Chiefs speak.

He looked at the Chief of the Wasps. "Can't you do as the Bird Clan and fly away from here?" he asked.
"We are too small, we would not be able to fly that far," explained the Chief.

"What about you, Chief of all the Beetles. Why don't you do like the Beaver Clan and share their underwater lodge?"
"We are not as strong as they are. We could not dive that far below the water,"explained the Chief.

The Coyote looked at the Chief of all the Mice.
"Well you could do as the Bear Clan and find a warm place to sleep through the big freeze."
"Oh, we are too small. We would not be able to eat enough before the big freeze came,"explained the Chief.

The Coyote thought of as many ideas as he could, but each time the Chiefs explained why it was not possible for them. He realised that he needed to have some time to think. The sun had long since set and the moon was now high in the sky.
"I shall return with a solution by sun rise," he explained.

Coyote walked for hours. He thought and thought and thought, but he could not think of the answer for The Little People.

He came to the part of the forest where his friend The Thought Tree lived and he flopped down at her roots and began to sob. Very gradually he became aware that The Thought Tree was calling to him. He sat up and listened. He rubbed his ears and listened again. He shook his head to make sure he wasn't hearing things.
"What was that you said?" he asked his friend.
"My clan want to help The Little People," she repeated. "Just before the big freeze comes we shall drop all our leaves to the ground and make a lovely warm blanket for The Little People to hide under."

The Coyote was overjoyed. He jumped and leapt and ran around the tree until he felt quite dizzy.
"That is the most generous of gifts!" he exclaimed. "And my gift to you for helping The Little People is that just before you drop your leaves to the ground I will paint them the most beautiful colours.

I shall paint them all with beautiful reds and golds and yellows and browns. This shall be my gift to you and your Clan."

And every year, just before the big freeze comes to this land Bear finds a warm place to sleep, Squirrel hides food all over the forest, the Bird Clan fly to a warmer place, Rabbit grows a new coat and Beaver makes a warm lodge.

And every year, just before the big freeze comes, Coyote paints The Thought Tree Clan's leaves the most beautiful colours - just before they drop them to the ground to make a warm blanket for The Little People.

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