Pula and Manaol: A Love Story

“This was long ago. In forgotten times. The land I speak of is now below the waters.

“There was a richness in the soil of this valley. Fields are heavy with harvest, and the forest was full. There lived a gentle people there, liking the ease of things and pleasantness. It was their custom to summon together a whole village or two for collecting crops. All the people came, old, babies, men, women. All of them.


“Only this time a runner must take this message to a third village up in the mountains. They hoped for their help, too. Nature was sharing great riches with them, more than they can work. A harvest this big did not happen often. But these folks liked to share, if they can. The people of this mountain village, they were very friendly folks, but far enough away that it makes it hard to visit. So they do not. Only for special events.

“It was many years now since their last visit. The runner man was just a little boy. He is very excited to go. To see. He makes himself ready and gets instructions from his elders.

“The trip was long but not too hard. This young man was strong, with good health, and fast. He goes to the chief first. They talked a long time. The chief brings in foods and drinks for the runner.

“And when the chief is satisfied she calls together all the village elders. It is for them to decide whether to go down into the valley, and how many go. There are many things to consider.

“They all counsel for several days. People of the village come forward and speak what they think. Then it is decided. More than half the village will go. The others will stay behind to tend to things.

“This will be most exciting for these folks. They get supplies together and leave for the valley. It is hard for such a big group to travel down the mountains. They go slow. Two weeks pass. The runner hopes they are not taking too long and get there too late. He urges for more speed.

“As they arrive, the valley people are just starting the harvest. The mountain people set their camp and go to join the village people in the fields.

“It was a very happy time for everyone. A reunion of old friends and family members. And meeting of many new friends.

“Among the valley people there was a young woman named Pula. She was strong and clever and pretty like the blossoms of a flower. She was of marrying age and was curious if there would come any young men that would please her. She worked in all the fields to make sure she meets all the men.

“There was one man there, when she first saw him and he smiles at her, she feels herself shake inside. And she wants to know him.

“He was Manaol. Young, strong. A very honest man. He too was thinking maybe this is a good place to find his wife. When he saw Pula in the field, he quick grabbed the big gathering basket to where she was and collected the harvest for her bag.

“She smiles at him a long time. He is nervous. He is afraid she will not care for him and he stumbles on roots. But she does not notice.

“He is called away by an elder to help with carrying. He is so beside himself by the nearness of Pula, he forgets to say goodbye, or where to see her later. He walks off, smiling a lot, looking at her, not where he walks. And he trips again.

“Later at night he talks with his uncle concerning this woman. They talk about finding her and their families sharing a meal. They all must meet, get to know each other, before the families can decide on a marriage. This affects them all.

“Manaol and his uncle go visit around the village and camp. They come to the home of Pula and her mother and aunts. Manaol’s uncle brings many foods and a fine meeting meal was fixed. It was a good introduction. And many more meals could follow.

“During the next days, Pula and Manaol worked in the same fields so they would pass by each other several times through the day. At meals, more friends and family came each time. And great friendships grew and deepened. The days would come soon when harvest was done and the mountain people would have to leave for their home. The families must decide now if there is to be a marriage.

“Pula and Manaol want each other more than anything else. But they will abide by the decision of their families. Late each night they sneak out of the village to meet secretly. They are very in love, and Manaol sings songs of passion to Pula and chases her in the moonlight.

“The day before the mountain people leave, their families decide the young couple should marry, but not until Manaol finishes his commitment to his elders. They will marry at the next summer’s end. One circle of seasons. This means Manaol must leave Pula and return to the mountain. In winter there is no passage between. No message or visits can be taken.

“This is the best decision. One has no choice but to honor commitments. Then they both will be free to live their own lives. He will return with his family in one year to marry and remain in the valley.

“The parting was hard for everyone. But the lovers most. Pula could not bear to see him walk away. She cried off into the woods. Manaol called for her, but she would not show herself. He trailed behind his people looking between the trees, singing his songs for her.

She listened to them and followed by the road in the forest till the cliffs begin, and he disappeared around the mountain.

“For Pula and Manaol the year passes slow. The winter is long and harsh. Each lives in the dreams of the other. They remember the time together and prepare for their joining.

“Pula’s grandmother was a medicine woman. In this year she takes Pula to live with her, to teach her the ways of their ancestors. She learns about marriage and birth and how to live with the spirit people.

“This grandmother introduces her to a wind spirit of their mountains. Pula spends much time learning to be a friend with the spirit, and hear her voice when she speaks.

“One day Pula cries for Manaol. The wind spirit, she wraps around Pula to comfort her. Pula says, if only I could see him, hear him. The wind spirit says she will go into the mountains and find Manaol and return to show her how he is.

“Pula does not understand, but she agrees, hoping she will hear news of her love.

“When this wind spirit comes back and surrounds Pula, Pula sees Manaol in his village. Hears his voice as he speak to his uncles. She is filled with excitement. She asks the wind spirit to carry a picture of her to Manaol. The wind says he has not learned to hear her. He may not understand. Pula pleaded until the wind said she would try.

“So up into the mountains goes the wind spirit. She tries and tries to get Manaol’s attention, to make him see the picture of Pula she carries in her heart. But he does not notice. She brushed up against him again and again. Called his name. Wrapped around him and blew in his face. She yelled in his ears. She even came roaring at him and almost blows him over. She yelled, ‘Pula loves you. Pula sends a picture for you to see.’ But he still did not hear.

“As she gave up and started to leave the mountain, he sat down on a rock and sighed. And says, ‘Oh if only I could see my Pula again’.

“She stopped and looked at him close. But he did not understand her message. His heart only heard a little echo of the name of his beloved, and it made him pine for her.

“The wind spirit returned to Pula and told her everything. Pula cried and called her grandmother to help her.

“Grandmother was clever. She knew a way for the wind to carry the lover’s dreams over long distances. She taught Pula how to make fibers from her heart. How to send them on her voice to the wind spirit to carry to Manaol.

“Paula practiced all the time. She learned how to make these fibers and send them on songs of desire for her beloved.

“One day while Manaol was hunting for wood, he hears Pula’s voice singing to him on the wind. He thought, ‘This is the magic of the old grandmother. I like it. Wind. Carry this song of my heart back to Pula.’

“He sang beautiful. Songs of impatient love. And the wind spirit carried their heart’s desire back and forth till the flowers came in summer.

“Then Pula prepared for her wedding and her new home. The weather was good. In one moon’s time Manaol and his family will come and she will begin her new life. She is dizzy with excitement.

“In the mountain village. Manaol completes his commitments. He does not want to wait for the appointed time. He wants to leave for the village right away and plans with his family to go now and then meet them in one moon’s time in the valley. This is fine. He says his many farewells to his village and heads off.

“In the high pass of the mountains the weather changes. It is late afternoon. Clouds collect, and it gets colder. Manaol hurries. But he is very high up. It is long to the foothills, a day or two away. He knows he is going to be stuck in the storm. But it is summer, and this should not be too cold or harsh. It would be good now to set up a camp. And he hunts around for a good place and firewood.

“When his camp is set it has gotten even colder. Snow actually is falling. He needs lots more wood for the night. He hikes around and gathers. It is a rocky place. On his way with his load back to his camp, the rocks roll underneath him, and he falls into a little crevice. Rocks, big rocks, fall on top of him.

“He cannot move. Try as he does, the rocks are too many and too heavy. The snow falls harder and night comes.

“The wind spirit friend of Pula’s finds Manaol. She tries to have her wind spirit relatives blow the storm away from him until he can get free. They agree to stay away from the crevice, but they will not leave the mountain pass. The storm is there to stay for a while.

“Now Pula’s friend rushes down into the valley village. She shakes Pula awake with a dream of her Manaol trapped in the snow. Pula jumps with a scream. “Grandmother! Grandmother! Wake up! Manaol is trapped in the snow. He is on the big pass. The wind has told me. We must go. Oh Grandmother, help me!’

“Pula is beside herself. She fears to loose her beloved Manaol. She cries and cries. Grandmother knows she speaks the truth and goes to wake the warriors of their family to make the journey and rescue him. They must hurry, for he will be dead soon.

“Grandmother is too old to go. She tells the warriors to take Pula. Pula will guide them as the wind spirit guides her.

“They leave before sunrise packed up for snow. They reach the cliffs by dawn. They can see this weather is pretty bad up high. But Pula pushes them on, faster and faster. They reach the pass by nightfall. But she only lets them rest a short time. Then she tied the men and horses together in a line. And she leads them in the darkness through the long pass. The men were afraid but Pula says her spirit friend will guide them safely.

“The snow was bitter cold. And deep. And drifted like great waves on the ocean. But they keep moving.

“As the Sun began to rise, the storm broke. Clouds pulled apart. Everything sparkled fresh. Then Pula recognizes the place she saw in her dream. The wind spirit took her to the crevice.

“Manaol was almost buried by the snow and rocks. But he lived. They set to freeing him as fast as they could and wrapped him and Pula together in furs on a stretcher. She would bring warmth back to his body.

“Now they headed down out of the snow, to make camp and rest.

“Manaol recovers. And in twenty days his family arrives for the wedding feast. Everyone has lots of fun. Everyone is happy. And Manaol and Pula begin their life together.’

The Reluctant Shaman
Kay Cordell Whitaker
page 167-173