Thomas Doty – Storyteller
Welcoming Home the Sun
As the Winter Solstice approaches, I offer this Old Time story from the southern Oregon coast. I call it, "The Sun Rolls North and South." It dramatizes the longest night, contains a memory of the last ice age, and a gesture of gratitude from the Old Ones whose descendants are still among us.
The beginning is a long time ago that is now.
* * * * *
On the night of the Winter Solstice, the people tell this story....
One morning the sun didn't rise in the east. Far away in the north the people saw her break the sky into colors. She rose free of the mountains and started rolling along south, following the coast, splashing the waves with daylight. For a long time she rolled and rolled and it was always daytime. Then there was another breaking of colors and the sun went down, far in the south.
When it was time to be morning, daylight never came. The people looked to the east, but there was no light. They cut firewood by torchlight and ate their stored food until it was gone. The ocean froze, and the darkness continued for ten days.
Then there was a glimmer of light in the east, and the sun rose, sending colors across the mountains. The sun rolled across the sky until she got to her midday place, and then she stopped. For five days she stayed in the middle of the sky, then she started off again, traveling slowly toward the west where she disappeared in the waves. Next morning, she rose in the east and followed her old path to the west.
Days got longer. The ocean thawed. Fish that were good to eat swam onto the beaches and the people divided the food.
"Someone must be helping us," they were thinking. "Someone must be giving us this food."
* * * * *
Photos are Sunset at Lone Ranch Beach, Winter Sun over Emigrant Lake, Ancient Sun Painting at Tule Lake, Last Light at Requa, and Evening at Medicine Lake.