The Summer Fairies (an Algonquin Indian legend)

July 5, 2014 

Long ago, the forests and meadows of this land were filled with light and dense with fairies. Those fairies danced through the grasses and hid among the trees, happy to be surrounded by warmth and sunshine. The queen of the fairies was Summer. Wherever the queen's fairies' feet touched earth, flowers bloomed. Berries ripened on their vines. Grass grew thick and green.

The great creator, Glooscap, loved the fairies, and he loved Queen Summer just as everyone did. But one day, after he had visited the fairies and watched the world bloom in the wake of their beautiful dance, he left their land. He traveled to the North, where everything was covered in ice and snow and cold winds whistled across the white plains.

There, Glooscap found the wigwam of the great giant Winter, and he went inside.

Winter welcomed Glooscap with as much warmth as he could muster. "Sit here beside me," he said. "I'll tell you tales of our people. I'll tell you tales of the old times."

So Glooscap sat beside Winter, and the great giant began to tell his stories. He spoke of the ways of the people, and those stories were so vivid that before long Glooscap was wrapped in their magic, cloaked in frost. He could no longer speak. He could not move.

The giant Winter talked on.

The cold bore into Glooscap's bones, and soon he fell into a magical sleep. That sleep was so deep that nothing could wake him. Six months passed that way, with Glooscap fast asleep in the wigwam, frozen to stillness.

After six months, the frost that encased Glooscap began to melt one day. As it did, Glooscap woke. "Winter," he said, "I must go. I have places to be," and he stood and walked out of the wigwam and began to move to the South.

As he was traveling, the air around him grew warmer, and before long, Glooscap saw the shadow of the fairies before him. He saw that as their feet touched the ground, flowers began to bloom -- irises, hyacinths and daffodils burst out of the earth. After he had walked awhile, Glooscap reached the meadow where Queen Summer danced, surrounded by her fairies.

When Glooscap saw the queen, his heart swelled with love. He ran forward and embraced her. He lifted her. He clutched her to his chest and twirled his cloak around her, hiding her.

And then he began to run, carrying the queen with him.

The fairies, seeing this, began to chase after Glooscap, but he ran much quicker than they did. And with one arm, he removed his cloak and tore it into strips that he left behind him as he ran. With his other arm, he held tightly to the queen.

And on he ran.

The fairies were frantic. They grabbed at strips of his cloak, hoping to be pulled along, but Glooscap disappeared. He was just too fast for the tiny fairies.

Holding the queen, he raced for the North until, at long last, he reached the wigwam of Winter.

"Come inside," said the giant. Once again, he tried to sound warm, for he wished to lure Glooscap to sleep.

But this time, Glooscap had a plan. He held Queen Summer close, and as he sat down beside the giant, he began to tell his own tales, instead of waiting to hear Winter's.

He regaled the giant with stories of summer. He spoke of the warm winds and the bright rays of sunlight pouring through thick green leaves into the scented meadows. He spoke of morning glories and lilacs and of water flowing.

He wove a spell of summer's scents -- warm wheat fields, lilies blooming, the salty sea. All this time, he held Queen Summer close.

And this time, instead of filling with frost, the wigwam pulsed with heat, and the giant began to thaw. Water poured down his head, onto his face. His limbs began to turn liquid, and Glooscap saw that the giant was melting. He just smiled and went on talking.

As Glooscap finished telling the last tales of summer, he looked and saw the great giant Winter was gone. The wigwam, too, had melted to a stream. Glooscap felt the brush of warm wind on his cheek.

He looked around and saw the melted snow pouring into the sea, and sure enough, the fairies came. They were holding the tatters of his cloak, running toward him, flowers blooming at their feet.

They leaped with joy seeing their queen once again, and the birds that followed them began to sing, too -- geese honking and ducks quacking, sparrows and jays and cardinals and crows chirping, loons whistling and singing for their queen.

When Glooscap saw that all was well, he turned to leave for home, glad that he'd brought Queen Summer and her fairies to the people of the North.

"Tell Me a Story 3: Women of Wonder," the third CD in the audiobook series, is now available. For more information, please visit

The Sun Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service