The fire in the middle of the circle was warm and welcoming. The chairs made out of stumps, leaves, and moss were very comfortable. The sky was clear, and the stories were entrancing. It made all the animals forget what time it was. "Tell us another story Grandfather Fox!" Yelled all the young animals, "We want to hear another story!" "Not so loud, my little ones, lot so loud. If you think that it is not too late," Grandfather Fox looked at the older animals in the circle. "I suppose that I could tell a few more stories."
"Oh, Grandfather fox, I wish you would tell us about the mountains, and why they, oh, what's the word?" said one little bear cub, named Ethel "Erupt, perhaps?" "Yes, that is the word, erupt! What is that big mountain over there? The one that looks flat on top?" Grandfather Fox said, "You mean Mt. St. Helens? Oh, that was one of the worst eruptions I have ever seen in all of my travels." Ethel's brother, Sam, said, "Grandfather Fox, what was it like to see that big old mountain erupt? I mean, it must have been terrifying!" One of the older animals said, "I hear that a whole side colasped!" Jerim, the oldest there except for Grandfather Fox said, " I lost my son in the eruption." The clearing became quiet as the old wolf talked. "He was very dear to me. When he sent word to me that the mountain was acting up, I told him, ‘Get off that mountain as soon as you can!' He didn't listen, he said that he had lived on that mountain for at least 23 years....It couldn't hurt anyone. It was just proving it's mountainness." Jerim paused for a moment. He left the circle, and soon came back with an old, worn out book. It was filled with pictures of a young wolf. He looked strong, and bold. "Your son looks very brave in those picturs, Jerim." Said Samantha, the mother of the two bear cubs. "He was strong-willed, and stubborn. He would not leave that mountain, even when the earthquakes came. I kept on telling him again and again to get off the mountain. He kept on saying that nothing would happen. And yet, the earthquakes got more frequent, and there were tiny eruptions everywhere. Then finally, it just erupted. The rangers said that there were survivors, but I knew that my son would not be one of them. I just knew it. He lived very high up, and would not have had time to escape."
"That is so sad Mr. Jerim," said Judith, a young fawn. "Your son should have listened to you. I mean, you raised him, you know what is best for him!" Jerim said, "I know dear, I had the very same thought. But, I suppose that it was his choice, he was all grown up, you know."
Gandfather Fox, who had been silent all this time, said, "Jerim, maybe you would like to tell some stories about the mountain. I am sure that you know a lot about it because that is where your son lived."
"Well, maybe I could. But, I will not tell all the stories. Some of you must know stories about the mountain that I do not. Grandfather Fox, I expect extra help from you."


Jerim said, "Well, I only know a few stories, but there is one that comes to mind immediately."
"Now, I know that some of you may have heard it before. Plus, since it was not written down, it will be different."
"Here goes....let's see here, how does it start? Oh yes! I believe that there were two tribes of Indians. And in one of the tribes, there was a very old woman. She was very kind, and always tried to help people when she could.
"As I remember it, the woman was given a wish. She wished to be young and beautiful again. This wish, of course, was granted. She became the most beautiful woman in both tribes. Everyone wanted her as their wife.
"Now, one day, I believe that the tribe chiefs were out taking walks, talking, when the saw the woman sitting at a stream washing her dishes.
"Both chiefs wanted her for their wife. But, they got in a huge argument over who got her.
"'No! I saw her first! She should be mine!' Yelled the first chief. 'You saw her first! I think not!' Screamed the other. The first chief said, 'I should think so! She is my wife, so don't even try to take her away!'
"As they were arguing, the woman looked up and said to them, 'I will not marry either of you!' and left. Now, my friends, this made the chiefs even madder. They screamed and yelled, and even tried to take the woman away by force.
"Now, the person, god, animal, whatever, that gave the woman her wishes got very angry. They decided to make the chiefs and the woman into mountains so that they could not make a war or anything."
Jerim thought for a while, then said, "You know, I think that there was a bridge or something between the land of the clans. Yeah, that's right. A bridge. Let's see, the god guy destroyed because there was going to be a war over the woman. They didn't want that to happen, so he destroyed the bridge.
"Then the god said, 'Alright chieftains, and woman, I am turning you into mountains.
"Now, I believe that the chieftains were turned into Mt. Hood, and Mt. Adams. The woman became Mt. St. Helens. And the reason that Mt. St. Helens erupts every now and then because Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams get into more arguments."
Grandfather fox said, "That was a good story, Jerim. And you are right, I did hear it slightly different. But don't worry, you got the basic idea.


"All right Grandfather Fox, tell us a story. Maybe we can alternate telling stories if it doesn't get too late."
Grandfather fox said, "I suppose. If anyone else has heard a version of this story, please mention it."
All the animals chorused, "Don't worry, we will! Just start the story!"
Jamey, a small, pink pig form a farm not that farm away, said to a fawn next to her, "Grandfather Fox tells the best stories!" Kris, a beautiful palomino horse said to the bear cubs, "You know, I have never been hear before. What are Grandfather Fox's stories like?" All she got back was "Shhh!"
Grandfather Fox began, "Well, as I said, I heard this from my friend. He lives on the mountain. You see, he isn't very well off. His son, though very timid, was very stubborn. You mustn't get me wrong, he is a very good person. He always felt sorry for those less fortunate than him. He always tried to give to the poor, and shelter those in need-"
Sara, a beaver, said, "You know, I heard it that he also gave shelter to that poor old squirrel, Pakatug."
"Odd name for a squirrel, don't you think?" Said Jerim
"Well, I think that we should get on with the story, I don't want to be up too late." Said Samantha.
"I agree," said Grandfather Fox. "When you get old like me, your favorite late night show becomes the 6 o'clock news."
That made the entire circle laugh. Grandfather Fox said, "All right, you sillies, I am going to continue the story now, so please quiet down." As an after thought, he added, "I usually like to be able to hear myself think."
Somehow, the circle managed to keep quiet. "All right, no where was I? Oh yes, we were talking about Jeff, Hubert's son. Well, as I said, he is very kind. He lived up on that mountain, rain or shine. Well, when the earthquakes started, Hubert sent word to him that the scientists thought that Mt. St Helens was going to erupt. Well, of course, like Jerim's son, would not leave.
"Fortunately, Hubert was able to convince Jeff to leave. He said to him, 'Well, if Mt. St. Helens isn't going to erupt, nothing will happen, so why don't you leave and come visit your mom and me? Why, your mom is so worried. And you haven't seen her in how long? 6 months?' Oh, that one went home...."
Jerim said, "Just like I always say, 'Nothing like a guilt trip to get someone to do something.'"
Grandfather Fox said, "How true Jerim, how true. Now, eventually the mountain erupted, and everyone was happy that Jeff had come home.
Jerim said, "Lucky them."
Grandfather Fox said, "Yes, well, ummm. On with the story! Since everyone was safe, the went to go see what had happened to the mountain. They found the whole north side had collapsed."
"Wow. That must have been amazing to see!" said one Ethel, the little bear cub. Her brother said, "Gee, it must have looked terrible! Yes, I bet it did!"
Just then the little fawn said, "That was a great story, Grandfather Fox! Will you tell us another one?" Grandfather Fox said, "Perhaps, Suzy, and thank you, I think that someone else should tell us a story."


"How about you, Jamey? You must certainly have had a differnt angle of the eruption than us. Plus, I bet that you probably had a better view than us, you sly little pig, you." Jamey giggled, then said, "Yes, I probably did have a better view than most of you." She stressed most, and looked towards the birds, huddled in one section of the circle. The birds that came to the story telling sessions hardly ever talked, just sat there and listened intently.
Jamey was surprised when a large hawk spoke up as she was about to begin her version of the eruption. He said, "Okay, most of you probably don't even know my name, by the way it is Morning Light. But, the reason I spoke up is to tell you that we birds did have a very different perspective of the eruption. We could circle the mountain and see what is going on everywhere. I tell you, it is a awing experience!" Jamey said, "Thank you for your insight, Morning Light. Now, if you don't mind I will continue with my version of the eruption, and a small story I pocked up on the farm. Then I would very much like to hear about what it was like on the other side of the mountain." She looked around, but no one spoke up. "Well, I will take that to mean that it is okay to tell my story.
"Well, it all started when I heard about the mountain acting up from the guy who feeds me. He was talking to the owner of the house, Mr. Raymond. He said that the authorities were clearing people who lived on the mountain off of it, because they didn't want anyone to get hurt. They said, not that this is my opinion, but that there was some stupid guy who wouldn't leave. Oh, what was his name-" "Truman" Morning LIght offered. "That's right, Truman, Thank you Morning Light. They talked on and on about what they thought, and had an argument, because Mr. Raymond thought that there was nothing wrong with wanting to stay on the mountain, but the other one said he thought it was stupid. Either way, I didn't care, it didn't concern me." Jamey said innocently. Well, eventually that old mountain blew its top. Big eruption. I'm not even sure that I can describe it. But the mountain used to look kinda like Mt Hood. It was a very even mountain. By that I mean that it was very symmetrical, triangular. Well, you know what I mean. Now, it looks like a big chunk was cut off the top."
Kris said, "Amazing!" Now you said that you had a story...." "Yes I do, Kris. You know, I don't even remember where I got this story, but I know that it is a short one. Well, it starts out that there was an old, old man who lived on the mountain. He lived alone, and barely went out anywhere. But one day, he had some sort of, heart problem, I don't know. Either way he had to go to the hospital for humans. They said that he needed more exercise. So, after he was out of the hospital, he started taking hikes everyday. Well, one day, when he was hiking, he stumbled and fell. He broke his leg, and could not get up. Now, the problem with this is that he never used trails. He always went off into the wilderness. So no one ever found him, until a search party found him. But, by then he had died from loss of blood. (He had cut his leg badly in the process of breaking it. He had tried to bandage it, but couldn't."
Jamey paused because some of the young animals were very upset, one was on the verge of tears. Jamey said to them, "Don't worry. I know that it is a sad story, but it turns out okay." The one who had almost cried said, "You mean it? Something good happens to the man?" Jamey said, "Yes, you see, a ancient legend says that anyone, animal, or man, who dies on Mt. St. Helens does not really die, but stays there, looking out for people who do dangerous things."
Samantha, the bear mother said, "Well, that is good."


"Well," said a little bluebird said, "I know a legend about Spirit Lake." "Tell us, Joanne!" cried the little animals. Joanne was quite a popular bird among the story telling group. She almost always had a story to tell. "Well, you will have to live with a short one, my dears. But, it is said that the lake is named after a couple of people who died there a very long time ago. Why it may have been back when the pioneers came here. I'm not exactly sure, Either way though, It is said that there was a family that lived there when they came over all the way from Connecticut. Well, I heard that there was a huge flood. It happened very quickly. The family didn't even know that it was happening. You see, I heard that the children went out to go swimming, and the father went to the shore to watch them. After that no one knows what happened. The whole family disappeared. No one ever found them. Either way, the people around Spirit Lake believe that the spirits of the family watch over the lake and all it's people...You wanna know what I think? I think that the people were sent to from their god, and made angles to watch over the earth, especially that lake."
Ethel said, "Wow! That is so weird! I mean, being called up from god, to become angels and watch over the earth!" Jerim said, "Well, you were right. It was short!"


Samantha said, "You know it is getting late Grandfather Fox, I think that we should only have one more story at the most. I don't want my bear cubs up all night!" "That is true, Samantha, well, how many more stories kiddies?" The children were getting tired, so they decided on two more stories at the most. "Perhaps we can gather tomorrow and learn some more stories, but maybe about a different place."
This was agreed upon, and Grandfather Fox said, "All right, who would like to tell the next story?" Jamey and Kris both spoke at the same time, "How about the birds tell a story!"
Since none of the birds looked thoroughly displeased, so Jerim said to Morning Light, "Hey Morning Light, how about telling us a story about Mt. St. Helens? It can be the eruption from your point of view, something you make up as you go, or a legend you heard from someone...."
Morning Light said, "Well, I don't see what harm it could do to tell a story...Well, let me think of one for a second. Oh, Okay, here is one. Now you see, this happened after the eruption. There was this bird, named Joe, who lived on a farm on the mountain. His mother, Sandra, Lived with him. He was friendly with the neighboring birds, but he really didn't talk that much to anyone at once.
"Well, the birds were having a party, and he was invited. Well, he decided to go, try to mingle, make some friends, stuff like that. About halfway through the party, a lot of birds said that they were going out to try and catch some food.
"Well, Joe said, 'Why not, I might even catch a nice big fish.' So, on his way to the river, Joe saw this big hole in the ground. He flew down to it, and low and behold, it was indeed a hole. He flew in, and what did he find, it was a giant cave, not a hole! He looked at the walls, and with his keen eyesight, Joe saw that the walls were made out of lava. 'Why,' Joe said to himself, 'this must be some type of lava tube!'
"Now, Joe explored the cave for some time, then went back outside. He tried to find some other birds to show his discovery to, and couldn't find any. So, he flew back to the party, and reported his findings to the hosts. The insisted upon seeing the lava tube right away. 'Take us to it right now Joe!' So, Joe took them to the tube, and they followed it all the way to the end, where there was a little chamber.
"They climbed inside, and sat there for a while. 'This is so cool, Joe!' 'Yeah, it is. But, don't you think that we should get back to the party?' Then they left, They reached the party, and told everyone about the lava tube.
"Well, the party continued, and Joe was asked several questions. Eventually when the party was over, Joe flew back to his home and told his mother all about the party, and the discovery of the lava tube. After preening, Joe went to bed. When Joe woke up, it was quite late. He decided to go out and snoop around in the lava cave. "When Joe got there, he fond that there was a boy scout troop there. They claimed finding the lava tube first. Oh, that made Joe very mad. He had found it first!"
"Joe, I believe that it is getting very late. I'm afraid that you will have to wrap up your story."
"Well, in a nut shell, he gets angry, cools off, and lives happily ever after."


"Wow! That is a very interesting version of how they found that lava tube."
Then, a young wolf walked into the circle. He went over and sat by Jerim. He turned and whispered to him, "Am I too late to hear a good story?"
Jerim said, "I am afraid that you are." The young wolf said to Jerim, "You know, I have an interesting story of my own. It starts out that there was a young wolf on Mt. St. Helens. His father urged him to get off the mountain before it erupted. Finally, the wolf agreed, and sent word to his father. It never reached him. So, he tried to get off the mountain before it erupted, but couldn't. Fortunately, he didn't get hurt. He did have to go to the hospital for a long time. Then he came out, and did not know who he was. He has been searching for a relative for a very long time. Now, finally he has found someone. His dad....Hi dad!"
For the first time Jerim looked up at the wolf sitting next to him. He was indeed his son. "Oh my gosh! Son, you're alive! Everyone, this is my son! He is alive!" Jerim left the circle with his son, and went home to tell his wife.
As for the rest of the circle, they eventually broke up and went their separate ways. But only with a promise of another story telling time.

Stories by Melissa Hemphill