With summer road trips coming up, I keep thinking of local native American creation stories that I heard as a kid and have retold to my kids. Now, I am not Native American – I’m an Italian, Swedish, English, German mutt, but these are stories I must have heard in school growing up in Oregon. They have become my own. One of our favorites is the story about the destruction of the original Bridge of the Gods at what is now the Bonneville Dam, and the creation of Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams and Multnomah Falls. It is a fun story to tell on a trip up the Columbia River Gorge, especially on a clear day, when all the mountains in the story are visible. It also has all the key motifs for a midsummer story—fire, passion, and too much passion. Like Icarus, the brothers in this story fly a little too close to the sun, and get a little too close to the fire, and pay the price. Here’s my version, which is a mix a lots of versions I have heard and read over the years. A long time ago, there was a chief who had two sons. Their tribe lived in the Washington grasslands along the northside of the Columbia River Gorge. Some say that this chief was coyote and some don’t, and I don’t know for sure, but I do know he was immortal and magic. He looked like a man. He had two sons. They were very different. The eldest was a brave warrior and the youngest was an artist. Both were good boys who did everything to help their tribe. The tribe had fire, which they relied on, to keep warm, cook their food, smoke food for future use and many other things. It had been a gift to the chief from a woman that lived in a cave under the great falls along the Columbia. She had fire and she gave it to the chief. He in turn gave her immortality. The problem was that she was an old woman. She didn’t want to be an old woman forever. Her bones ached and she didn’t have the energy to gather all the things she needed to live well. So she went to complain to the chief. He took mercy on her and made her young. Now she was young and beautiful and immortal, and very happy. Now there was another problem. The two brothers both saw the young woman, the keeper of fire. She was very beautiful, happy, kind and very wise, and they each fell in love with her. And they began to fight for her affections. The older brother would tell her stories of his bravery, and bring her meat from his hunting expeditions. He would help her to carry heavy loads and perform daring feats. He was sure that he would win her heart. But the younger brother had a way with words, and could see into her heart. He made her a beautiful bow and carved beautiful arrows for her. And she liked the little brother more, though she knew she should like the elder. He would help her more. When the older brother realized that the younger brother was winning the beauty’s heart, he was enraged. He fought his younger brother – and the younger brother fought back. They fought day and night, until finally, they upset a fire smoldering in the village, and because it was summer and the grass was dry, the grass caught fire. The whole village was burned, and big swaths of grass raged with flame day and night and everyone all around was choked with the smoke for miles and miles. When their father, the chief, maybe coyote, found out about this, he was furious. He commanded his sons to stop. He told them that neither could marry the young woman. She was immortal, she was magic, she kept the fire. Now the woman didn’t want to be off limits forever. She was a person, and wanted love, so even though the brothers tried to listen to the father, she often found reasons to see them, especially the younger brother. Again, he started coming around her home, bringing her gifts. Again, the older brother found out and was mad. Again, they fought, until one day they battle was so fierce that the brought down the woman’s home at the Bridge of the Gods. The river flowed right over it, and though the older brother saved the fire, he almost didn’t. Fire would have been lost to the people. Their father found out and decided the brothers, though his own, had to be stopped. He stopped their fighting by turning them to stone and turning the woman into water. You can see the brothers today. The oldest we call Mt. Hood. You can see his brave spirit still standing tall over all. And you can see the little brother too. We call him Mt. Adams. He has a sweeter face and looks out more gently. The woman we know as Multnomah Falls. Her beauty and wisdom are still with us. And fire is now in the hands of people with no one looking out for it, really. So we all have to be careful to watch over it, use it well, and not let it get too big or too small.