Stories by Faith Pyle
How the Owl Got His Song
Dear Great Grandchild :
I wrote this story down in the computer. .It
is a very old story told word of mouth by a grandfather to his grandchildren
over and over for a very long time. Now
I will put down the words in writing for the first time.
As children, we always asked our Mommy to read a story at bedtime and she did most
of the time. In the summer we
stayed in my Grandfather's camp at Lake Tahoe.
At night we had a campfire. We
sang and told stories around the fire before bedtime.
Sometimes my Grandfather would tell a made up story when we were all around
the camp fire in the summertime. The moon would be shinning up above the big Lake Tahoe,
making a wonderful trail of light on the water.
All the trees seemed like cutouts ,black against the moon bright
sky. The camp fire smelled of the
burning pine wood and little sparks would shoot up in the dark and oh it was so
nice .Of course this was in the 1930’s and all people were out camping
at Lake Tahoe all the time in the summer.
There were hardly any houses in Tahoe City. We had a house for winter but
we stayed in the camp about 2 months to 3 months if it was a warm summer. We were
quiet as little mice while Grandaddy talked or sang to us.
"I heard this story once," said Grandaddy, "from a very old Cherokee
grandmother. And, she, and even I , can’t prove it is true because it happened a
long, long time ago when animals could talk. Or maybe that was just yesterday.
I am not very sure as I have lived so long myself. .Anyway it happened once
upon a time like all stories do.
How the Owl Got his Song
Once upon a time....in the great north woods, in the place where the great waters
are (now called
the Great Lakes), there were many people living, who, in those days, were
called "The real people," or "Mohicans."
At one time the name for the people
was a word that not
one of the people living today could
remember, so we just call
them the "people of the woods and lakes."
A nice family lived on the edge of the lake with all their friends and
relatives in a town where all the houses were made out of poles and cedar
shingles ..They had one great long house for big meetings and ceremonies and
many smaller homes for the families. One
Hunter, and his wife, Basket Maker,
of great renown, had only one little girl . She was a very busy little girl and ran around a great deal
so they called her baby name "Runs on Fat Legs,", but when she was
bigger, like a six year old, they
began calling her Runs Like the Wind. But
the word that meant that was shorter and sounded like the wind sounds,
but meant Runs Like the Wind..
Runs Like the Wind. had to help her mother and father and there was no other
child to do it so she was very good and helped do what they ask her to do.
Runs Like the Wind. lived in a cedar bark and pole house with Hunter and
Basket maker and they all worked every day in the good weather to gather food
for the winter. Hunter went hunting
or stayed home and made bows and arrows and spears and nets.
He and the other men also fished and they had to make boats so they were
Basket Maker gathered all kinds
of food to go along with the corn and squash she grew in the garden with all the
other women. They went out and dug
up roots like our sweet potato and of course they gathered
berries and grapes and nuts galore when they were in season then they
dried them and made them last. They
had to gather enough to last the long snowy winter.
One day Mother gave Runs Like the Wind. a basket for herself and took her
with the rest of the women and children to gather nuts to save for winter.
The little girl was so happy she
sang a song as she worked. She sang ”Ho Ho whoo ho ho whoo.’ Runs Like the Wind. was singing and thinking so hard, “Where is another nut tree,”
that she forgot to keep track of where her Mother was working.
She kept looking at the next tree and then the next tree and they all
looked alike. Finally she found a
tree where the ground was just covered with nuts so she began working to fill
A big red squirrel with a bushy tail all cream colored underneath came out on
a limb and began scolding her very much, telling
the singing little girl to be
quiet. Shouting, . He said, “ If you take all the nuts what will I eat in the
“I just have a little basket,” she replied “you can come and get all
the rest when we are gone,” then she looked around.
There was no one there . Not
one person could she see. Only a
squirrel. And he was still shouting and not friendly. Chatter Chat Chat he
The woods began to look dark to her and the trees and bushes seemed very
close together. The sun didn’t
make much light now. She began
walking and looking for her people “ I am so little,” she thought, “how could anyone see me?”. She
shouted back at the squirrel “Don’t yell so. You frighten me”
Squirrel said “well when you sing and steal my food at the same time I have
a right to shout, now stop crying and scaring me.
I don’t like crying little girls. Rather, I
do like them, it is just I want them to stop crying” he shouted. “Please Please, “ now
the squirrel stopped shouting and using a gentle tone of voice “Rest
here ,”said the squirrel.
She sat down and a tear was still rolling out of her eye.
She tried to be brave but she was lost.
She pulled up her deer skin moccasins and brushed the leaves and dirt off
her hands and face. Then she
cracked and ate all the nuts in her basket and her tears ran down her little
Runs Like the Wind.
sat there for a long time. Finally
the Red squirrel cane and said “Are you going to live here with me.?”
“No, “she said,” I want to find my people especially I want my
mother.” “ Well,” said the
Red squirrel “ you better hurry long the path and don’t just sit her all
day”. So Runs Like the Wind.
began going up and down the forest trail calling and singing “ Yoo Whoo
WHOOT and Ho Ho WHOOT.‘
She woke up a very
large old grandfather brown owl who
came out of his hole in a tree. HE was blinking
his big yellow eyes and turning his head clear around to look backwards.
“Hey,” he said “you woke me up .Don’t you
know I sleep in the day and
come out in the night. Stop singing
whoo whoo at me..”
“Oh Mr. Owl I am sorry.
I would be quiet but I need to find my mother..”
“Well if I ever
want to go back to sleep,” said
the big old owl ,” I better take you home Come Come right now and follow
me.,” and he flew from
tree to bush and waited for
the girl to follow
He flew up the
path and she did follow. Finally he
said,” Here we are. Now go up
this path to the next nut tree and you will find you mother , she
is looking for you., Runs Like the Wind.
. You are not lost now
But I decided I like that song very much, you it sang in the woods.
Ho Ho Whoot.. May I sing
your song. “
“Oh yes, Mr. Owl, you can have
my song!” and she ran
like the wind on the path to her people.
They all kissed and hugged her and she got her grown up name forever. “Runs Like the Wind..”
If you walk in the woods today you will know all the owls forgot how to
talk...but they did not forget how to sing out at night when looking for owl
people. Whoo Whoo, they sing.
Now children that is how the owl got his song and how he can always find his
own owl people WHOO WHOO.WHOOT.
Faith Pyle All rights reserved © 2000