New Person!

Hey. I'm Maurice, a first-year living in Kitagata between Saga and Takeo. Yoroshiku. This is me, probably seen me drinking water at a conference or somewhere.
Anyhoo, it's a Monday. Often we're still coming down from the weekends, getting things in order for the rest of the week. I like something relaxing for my between-class time. So I present to you today a story, to get the week started. It really requires a circle of people all be sitting around. Hope this story is timely, seeing as spring seems to be just starting to hit us...

This is the story about the bear that stole the Chinook, uhh…Ariake Winds. In Saga country, when winter becomes frayed and tired, we look up and see the faded blue arch in the mountains and that means that the south eastern Ariake winds will come and warm everything up. And so this story goes back, way back in time, maybe a thousand years. Our people, the Osagans, were living on the edge of the mountains in the foothills. And the Chief looked at the people and said, “Times are bad, the winter isn’t ending and our rice is running out.” Even as he spoke, a storm hit. It piled up snow quite deep, maybe 6-7 inches of snow. Our people hardly could move. The children were crying because there was no food. It was hard to get wood to keep the houses warm. It was bad, I tell you.
But outside the village were some animals, who looked on the people with concern. These were the owl and his family, the monkey, the wolf and the magpie. They said, “We need to do something about this. The Ariake winds haven't come. They haven't come in a long time.” The group told the magpie, “You have a lot of relatives. Go find your relatives and see if there's any gossip as to what happened to the Ariake winds.” So it wasn't too long after, the magpie came back and he said, “Yes, way up in the mountains, near Tenzan,” he said, “There is a great old bear in a lodge. He has captured the Ariake winds and he has them in a big elk bag and he is very nice and warm.” So they said, “We have to journey up into the mountains.” And so they took off.
The wolf busted trail for the rest and the birds were out gathering food for the group. And they journeyed and journeyed. The journey took a long time. They had to plow through the deep snow and the cold. Eventually they came to a clearing. “That's where the bear is and inside he has the Ariake winds.” The magpie was saying. And they noticed there was a hole inside this lodge. And so the owl sent his wife up and he said, “Peek in there and see where that bag is.” The bear was back there. Oh he was happy, making all kinds of good noises, warm as could be, and just grunting around and having a very relaxed good time. But he could hear anything because bears have very sharp ears. And he heard this owl flying up. So he grabbed his fire stick. And the owl peeked in and he poked her in the eye with that stick and she flew off crying, she flew off in the woods crying. So owl sent his son up there and he went to peek in there and see where the bag was …and the bear was waiting again and poked his son. And he went off crying. Same thing happened to owl. He got poked in the eye, and he went off crying. (That's why owls have big eyes today.)
They needed a different plan, so monkey, (monkey has opposable thumbs and thus is very clever) he said, “I'll go up there and peek,” and he rushed at the lodge and he peeked in and before the bear could do anything he was already gone. And so he came back with information, and he said, “Yes, that bag is back in the corner and the great old bear is sitting right alongside of it. Oh we gotta come up with a plan.” And so they took cedar and made a fine scented fire. And smoke was blowing into that lodge and that smoke was collecting; and this made the bear very tired. He begin to doze off, and they peeked through that hole, and pretty soon more smoke came in and pretty soon the bear was sound asleep snoring.
And so the wolf, he crept on inside that lodge and with his teeth, he grabbed that bag and very slowly pulled that bag out. He got it outside the lodge and he started chewing at the stitches and he could get no headway. He was chewing and chewing and it was so hard, he couldn't get through. Then he heard someone say, “Can I help, little brother?” And he looked down and he saw this little fox. The fox said, “Can I help you? I can pick the stitches out.” So the little fox got up on top of the bag and he started pulling the stitches out. And he got out a couple of stitches and he released the Ariake winds. And the Ariake winds swirled around and began melting all the snow. (Inari happened to be watching these events unfold and was very impressed by fox, which is why foxes are now Inari’s messenger.)
And the Ariake winds were released. And all the snow was melted, and this brought the game back and allowed for the rice to be grown. The people had food and they had a wood source. But the bears were very angry so today when winter comes, they all hibernate. They all sleep through the winter so they don't have to be cold in their nests. And so from that time on, the Ariake winds have always been with us. And bears, we don't have to worry about them because they hibernate. And that is all.
So there you go. Hope you all have a good week, and I'll write something real tomorrow.