LEGEND OF THE MOUNTAIN ASH BERRIES
In late autumn or winter one will see an
entirely different kind of tree dotted here and there among the green pines and spruce.
These are Mountain Ash trees covered in a mass of brilliant red berries. The more berries
on the tree, the more severe the winter will be. Why is this so? Legend relates that many
years ago a severe and terrible winter set in Canada. Snowdrifts formed in great heights
and temperatures dropped to extraordinary degrees below zero.
While in search of food, the Indian
hunters became terrified when they came upon hundreds of birds and small animals lying
dead on the frozen snowbanks. Immediately they banded together in great numbers and
offered prayers' to the Great Manitou, as they were frightened that the same evil spirits
would destroy them also.
The Great-Spirit answered them by
instructing them to take one drop of blood from every dead bird and small animal and smear
it on the tree that meant life and death to their people. As the Mountain Ash was the tree
whence they fashioned bows and arrows, their only means of survival, they chose it and set
about as Manitou had made them do. The following morning every tree they had smeared bore
thousands of berries. The birds and small animals that had survived were perched on the
mountain Ash branches eating the life-giving food.
The happy Indians danced late into the
night, giving thanks to Manitou, who in return gave his promise that whenever a cold
winter was approaching again, he would cover these trees with food.