STORYTELLER; AWOUNNIE AND QUILL

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As the long winter days slowly started to fade, the season of green came
upon the village of a very special child called Quill. Everyone worked hard
in the village picking berries, fishing and hunting.

The days were always full, but there were times at the end of the day where
the head elder would gather everyone around the fire and tell stories of
great buffalo hunting parties. The stories were of ancient people who would
talk to the true at heart.

Quill would listen and hang on to every word, her mind painting the stories
the elder was telling. Quill's mother had a very hard time quieting her to
sleep. After a mother's song, finally Quill would sleep. Even in her sleep,
the stories would come to life.

Now Quill was a special child in the village. She was always just slower
than the other children. Every task asked of her was hard. She always tried
her best, even when the beads slipped through her fingers as she tried to
bead. She just couldn't keep up. She was last in all the games the children
of the village played.

Sometimes some of the adults and children would whisper about her
clumsiness. Her own brother would always tease her and tell a story how
Turtle won the race and Quill lost. But she never got mad: she would smile
and laugh at her mistakes.

The wise elder, Sankalip, would always find time to sit and talk to Quill
and praise her for always trying. He told her she was a very special child
and the others in the village would come to understand this and see how
special she was. "Your smile will show them. You'll see, little Quill, just
what you will teach them all. We are all different, yet we are all the same
and only our names separate us."

The next day, Quill was on one of her walks along the river. She loved the
sounds the trees made when the gentle breezes blew through them. She would
laugh at the birds and try to flap her arms up and down and imagine she was
a bird flying. She would always try to pick as many berries as she could
for her mother and wrap them in the big leaves she found along the river.
When she was done, she sat by the riverbank singing songs and wiggling her
toes in the cool rippling water.

Suddenly, she felt something tickling her toes. Instead of being afraid,
she just giggled. Then up from the water popped a furry little head with
tiny eyes. Quill stopped and stared. She didn't know this animal.

"Hello to you," the creature said. "I see you sit by my home every day. I
see you mean me no harm and you are true at heart. I can feel it. My name
is Awounnie, the beaver."

"Oh," Quill stammered. Awounnie climbed out of the water and shook himself,
getting Quill all wet. She just smiled. "You are a very pretty animal. Can
we be friends?"

"I cannot see why not," Awounnie replied. They spent the rest of the day
telling stories and learning about one another until the sun went down.

Quill had to leave her friend. "I will be back tomorrow. Please don't
forget me," she said.

"I won't. Have a safe journey home, little Quill," said Awounnie. Quill was
so happy having a friend.

She spoke about him at the storytelling fire. Many covered their mouths and
laughed, but not Sinkalip. "You have a good heart, Quill. Brother Beaver
would not have talked to you if you didn't. See, I told you that you are
special. Awounnie is an old friend of mine. When you see him, tell him that
I will try to get my old bones to take me to the river and visit."

Sinkalip and Quill laughed and then said their "good nights."

Morning did not come soon enough for Quill. She was up before her mother.
She helped wash the clothes and gathered firewood. She tried very hard to
keep up. Her mother saw how Quill was in a hurry to be done and that she
had helped a lot, so she told Quill to run along and play with the other
children.

She didn't go play with the other children, but ran as fast as she could to
the river. She sat by the river, letting her toes splash in the cool water.

"Hello, Quill."

Surprised, she turned and there was Awounnie, hiding behind a tree. All she
could do was giggle. She walked over and leaned on the tree. Awounnie sat
by a log and they talked of Sinkalip and the old times.

As time passed and days went by, Quill always finished her chores to go sit
with her new friend. During this time, Awounnie was building his new home.
Quill watched as he got trees and branches and moved them to make his new
home.

"I want to make a home like yours," Quill said.

"You do?" Awounnie laughed. Quill replied, "Yes. Please teach me."

Quill begged and begged. Then Awounnie said, "I will show you, but you must
make it here on the land and much smaller than mine. You go gather the long
leaves and I will show you." Quill did as she was told and Awounnie showed
her how to weave them in and out.

When she was done, to her surprise, she'd made a house that she could put
things in. Quill turned her little house upside down and put all the
berries she had gathered earlier in it. "Look what you have done. You have
made something to carry your food in. You are very smart," Awounnie said.

Quill was happy. She ran home to show everyone what she had made. The
village people were very surprised to see that Quill had made this. "My
friend, Awounnie the beaver, taught me how it is the wrong-side house."

The people all treated Quill differently after that day. She taught them
how to make these little houses. We know them as basket bowls.

The elder knew Quill was special. In our world today we have many special
people. We need to stop and see beyond our egos and frantic lives, and see
with our eyes and hearts: be grateful for the special people. Their special
gifts of laughter, love and compassion will only enhance all our lives.