Cold Wind and Storm Wind

[Based on several myths from South Puget Sound, translated by Arthur Ballard]

Snow Leopard had two suitors: Rain Wind, the son of the Old Lady of the Mountain, and Cold Wind, who was from the far north. She married Rain Wind. Cold Wind was furious. He and his clan attacked, killing Rain Wind and all the rain wind people. Snow Leopard fled upriver, and gave birth to her orphan son, Storm Wind. She never spoke of his father. Her brother always told Storm Wind not to travel to the great mountain.

Cold Wind held the land under his power. Everything was covered with ice and snow. He stretched a fish-weir of ice across the river. No fish could get up the river past this trap, so further up the valley the people starved.

When Storm Wind became a grown young man, he set out for the great mountain. Cold Wind had set two of his slaves, ice demons, to guard it. Storm Wind sent them tumbling down the slope with a great gust. He continued up.

At the top was an old lady, making baskets. She made baskets of different kinds, coarsely woven and finely woven baskets: many, many! The old lady was his grandmother.

She had no one to help her, because they had all been killed. For her fire she had only some tops of the cattail rush. They would blaze up quickly and then die down just as quickly. She could not keep warm. She was crying for her dead son, but the tears froze on her face.

As Storm Wind approached, the ice began melting from her face. She sang, "I am growing warm, my young relative comes." She went to the door. Storm Wind was standing there.

Storm Wind talked to her. He learned who she was, and how his relatives were killed. He uprooted big trees and laid them at her door for fuel. Then he asked how to fight the cold people. She said, "Wait until I finish my baskets, then we shall settle that." Storm Wind went home to wait.

Cold Wind's slaves reported what had happened. Cold Wind was alarmed at Storm Wind's strength, and offered his daughter in marriage. She dressed in her finest beads and earrings of ice. But before she arrived at the young man's house, the ornaments had melted.

The next day adorned as before she set out again. Again her attire melted away and she had to return home. A third time she set out for Storm Wind's home, but as she drew near, her finery again melted. She returned home and never did become his wife.

Storm Wind went back to the great mountain. His grandmother was ready. She had large, coarsely woven baskets to hold coarse raindrops. The next in size and weave were for the steady rain. The smallest were tightly woven, to hold the fine mist.

The two set out. Storm Wind blew. His grandmother began pouring out the rains: first the coarse drops, then the steady rain, and last the mist. He blew and uprooted the trees. The rain swelled the river behind the ice weir, and the trees crashed into it until it broke. A flood swept over the cold village. Storm Wind melted the ice, and chased the snow away. Cold Wind fled. If not for Storm Wind, we would still have the ice here now.

This is an old myth from Umathela, believed to be free of God Learner influence. There are many variants. Storm Wind is typically identified as an aspect of Tyloque. Cold Wind has sometimes been identified as Qualyorni, though he's usually considered to be Valind or one of the Vadrudi.

Copyright ©2004 David Dunham. Last updated 19 Jun 04.

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