Long ago the oceans had no tides and the shores no shallows. Raven knew there was lots of food in the sea - oysters and clams, mussels and crabs. But how to get to it? He was lazy and preferred getting into mischief.. Raven wondered, "If only there was a way to move the water out of the way, so I could gather food from the sea!"
Raven, he knew nothing about the sea, but knew the Fog Man did. He would find the Fog man and ask him. Raven started asking around. He asked the sandpipers, and like a single bird, the flock darted and swooped this way and that, but Raven could not figure out which way they wanted him to go. Raven asked the gulls, but they seemed to be lost souls endlessly searching themselves. Raven asked the Cormorants, perched like lonely sentinels on the offshore rocks but they didn't know where The Fog Man was to be found either.
Finally Raven decided to look far to the north, where the fogs came from. He searched until one day he saw a island bouncing from wave to wave, like a raft free of its moorings. On it was a wrinkled old man with a long straggly beard. When he saw the Raven coming, he snatched up his hat and pulled it down on his head. Fog began to pour out from under it's brim, hiding the fog man and his island.
Raven swooped down and snatched off his hat. "What, do you throw a fog in a friend's face."
Leaving the Fog Man cursing on the shore, Raven flew towards the setting sun. For many days, he pursued the sun and was just about to give up his search when he spotted a solitary Rock crag, with sea birds swooping around its head and shoulders. Raven was about to ask the birds, when the crag yawned, then it blinked. What looked like a rock, was a giant man, sitting in the water. Three times Raven asked him: "Have you seen the man who sits on the Tide?" with no answer, but the fourth the Giant roared "I AM THE MAN WHO SITS ON THE TIDE!!" His breath blew Raven back several miles.
Avoiding his mouth, Raven shouted in his ear. "Do you know the secret of how to move the sea aside?"
Raven began circling him. Raven spotted an exposed portion of his "backside" and got an idea. Flying up high in the sky, he pointed his sharp beak right at it and dropped like hawk, jabbing the giant real good. With a mighty roar, the giant rose up and started howling in pain, jumping around and holding his "backside". But his wail was drown out by the sound of a hundred waterfalls, as the sea poured into a large hole where he had sat. The giant danced around in pain. The sea was almost all gone, leaving sand and floundering fish as far as the eye could see. Finally, rubbing the "tender spot" the giant sat down. As he did the sea spurted up and refilled to its former water line.
Raven knew the giant's secret. "So that's what the tide is, now if we can just teach him some new habits."
Raven perched on his shoulder and with his most persuasive trickster voice suggested: "From now on, how about taking a little stretch twice a day - just a short one, so the people can gather food from the sea."
As Raven began circling for another jab, the giant roared "WHY I CAN SWAT YOU LIKE A MOSQUITO! YOU ARE NO BIGGER TO ME THAN A MINNOW TO A WHALE." He began to swing his arms wildly at the circling Raven. Giant waves were formed. As the two struggled, Raven trying to jab the giant, the giant trying to crush the Raven, a great storm struck the shores, and they say that this was when Mountain Goat first tasted salt and why sea shells are found in the mountains.
Trying as hard as he could Raven could not get near a tender spot on the Giant. Then Raven remembered Fog Man's hat. Raven pulled the hat down on his head. Fog began pouring out, thicker and thicker. A fog bank enveloped the Giant. He looked around, trying to spot Raven, but all he could see was Fog. Then, "YEOWWW!" Raven jabbed him good. For a little while, he jumped and danced around, then settled back on his spot.
Meanwhile as the waters receded, Raven was able to gather food from the sea shore. The waters were shallow enough to fish, and there were oysters and clams and mussels and crabs. The Sandpipers and gulls and cormorants found plenty to eat. Then as the giant had settled down, the waters returned to their former level. Raven began to visit the giant twice a day at different times to catch him by surprise, upsetting him each time. Sometimes he used Fog Man's hat, or came in the dark of the moon. And as the tide went out and came in, there was plenty of food to eat.
Finally, one day, as the Raven was about to pull on the fog man's hat, he saw a surprising sight. All by himself, without Raven's reminder, the Giant stood up, stretched, looked around and after a bit, sat down. Raven was puzzled. He disguised himself as a sea bird and flew to the giant's shoulder. "Why did you just stand up and sit down?"
And as Raven flew off, relieved he would have to upset the Giant no longer, he laughed. "I am the Raven. I upset things. It's my job. It's what I do!"
My First Telling
I first told the Story of Raven and the Man Who Sits on the Tides it at the campground at Kalaloch in the Olympic National Park. What a perfect place - the sound of the breakers on the offshore sea stacks, the smell of salt and the shore in the air, surrounded by large spruce and cedar twisted by winter storms. The ranger was gracious enough to let me tell it at the evening campfire program. I used a "raven" cap I made and a silver mylar rain hat for the Fog Man's hat. I have told this tale many times, but that first telling is always in my mind and heart as I tell it.
My Raven Programs
I have put together a program of Raven tales I tell in front of a 9'x7' Raven Story Screen. I have told for elementary and middle school classes and public libraries - and I use the stories to teach of how the first peoples on the wild pacific shores adapted to life in the Pacific Northwest. Other Raven Tales I tell include: Raven and the First Men; How Raven stole the Sun; Raven gets Fire; Raven brings the Salmon (my version includes Raven tricks Grizzly); and Raven and Gull); and Raven and Frog. I have collected many other tales as well including some about Mouse Woman, the fairy Godmother of Pacific Northwest lore.
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