Firstman and Firstwoman

- Cherokee-

Long ago there was only one man and one woman on the earth. They were placed here to take care of all the animals and plants. Everything was perfect. They loved each other very much. They were called FirstMan and FirstWoman.

One day, and no one knows exactly why, they began to argue. The arguments became louder and more intense. Each one said very hurtful things to the other. Finally FirstWoman left the dwelling. She insisted she did not ever want to see FirstMan again, and would never return to their dwelling. FirstMan agreed. He too did not want to remain where there was so much animosity.

As night fell, FirstMan realized that he didn't want to be separated from FirstWoman. He didn't feel right to be alone. FirstMan began to desperately miss FirstWoman. At every sound outside the silent dwelling, he rushed to the door hoping to see she had returned. But it was never her.

At first light he set out in the direction she had gone hoping to catch up with her. After one full day, he finally saw her in the distance. She also saw him, and began to pace him, so he could get no closer. He sped up, and so did she. This continued for two days. Desperate, FirstMan asked the Creator to help him. "Are you sure you want this woman?" asked the Creator. "Oh, yes, for this woman walks in my very soul", answered FirstMan.

Seeing FirstMan's sincerity, the Creator placed flowers in the path of FirstWoman to slow her down. The flowers were beautiful, but FirstWoman could see none of them through her tears. She kept pacing FirstMan so he could not catch up with her. The Creator set other, more beautiful flowers in her path.wild flowers of incredible beauty that should have gotten her attention. These could not attract her because of her tears. The Creator put bushes in her path with no effect, and wonderful shrubs. FirstWoman kept pacing FirstMan. FirstMan began to lose ground with FirstWoman and he felt disheartened.

Finally the Creator put out berry bushes in front of FirstWoman. These included service berries, blackberries, cherries, saskatoon berries, gooseberries. FirstWoman stopped periodically to taste the fruit, but moved on and now began outpacing FirstMan. He began to lose sight of her completely.

Finally the Creator set out the Strawberry plant to slow down FirstWoman. The Creator set it out in all it's evolution - white, green and red. She eventually stopped to taste the sweet red berry. However, wherever FirstWoman stepped on the earth, the Creator set a strawberry plant. In this manner, FirstMan was able to track her. As the strawberries became more lush and sweet, FirstWoman stayed longer to taste the fruit. This is how FirstMan was eventually able to catch up with her.

They shared this wonderful fruit while soothing the ugly words they had said to each other. The words became forgotten and they traveled home together in the love they originally shared.

To this day some Cherokee homes keep strawberries in some form. Maybe just in the form of jams or jellies, or in the form of plants in the gardens. In some older homes - log homes - they are planted between the logs in keeping with the tradition. But they remind us in the end to slow down our arguments. Most are never important enough for us to leave our homes nor our chosen FirstMates.

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