The Indian stood in his field of grapes watching a tiny funnel of gray ash dance across the barley fields and said he was not surprised.

His grandparents told him, he said, the mountain they called "Si Yeet" would blow its top someday.

"They said in time to come it would blow up. All the mountains would blow up. They said that would be the end of the world. Maybe you and I won't be around to see it, but the end of the world will come," he said.

He turned to rub the gray soot gently from the delicate leaves of the grapes, his weathered fingers scraping off hardened balls of ash cemented to the vine by the morning dew.

Woodrow Bill has 10 acres of grapes. He is confident that they'll survive.

"I think this will do some good to the ground," he said. "White man will say different. He'll come out and take tests. We don't. We just go by what God sends down."

"Si Yeet" is the Yakimi Tribe name for the once majestic Mount Helens. It means "woman," and, according to legend, "Si Yeet" was a beautiful maiden dressed in white who was placed on earth by The Great Spirit to protect the Bridge of the Gods on the Columbia River from the battling warriors, Mount Adams and Mount Hood.

The Indians say the mountain is angry now. Watson Totus, 75, who remembers seeing smoke rise from the mountain as a boy, said the white man has "disturbed" the mountain too often.

"It blows up once in awhile, not often, but God always told the Indian people never to be afraid," Totus said. "There were too many disturbances by the white people. The ash comes way over here across the mountains and it never has before. You people should leave the mountain alone."

The ash on Indian land, where Bill grows his grapes, is only a quarter inch thick.

Fifteen miles north, in Yakima, on white man's land, the ash is two inches deep. The giant ash cloud from the erupting mountain spread out over most of eastern Washington, covering it with ash that ranges from four to seven inches deep.

The eerie fog that first enveloped Yakima has turned to a gray haze. Henry Hauck, 58, said the last time he saw the sun was Sunday, when he ran outside to secure his apple orchard as ominous black clouds rolled in from the west.

He remembered that the clouds seemed "a little different," and as they got closer, he said, "it looked like we were going to have an eclipse."

Then the blue sky turned midnight black.

"Instead of rain, sand was falling from the heavens. There wasn't anything I could do, so I said, 'The heck with it,' and ran back inside."

The sand was still falling when Hauck went to bed. The next morning, he awoke to a serene, but eerie, colorless morning. The spring pastels had vanished under a blanket of ash.

Hauck's apples hung like walnut-sized gray dustballs from his trees. Dogs howled. Snakes slithered inside houses. Gophers emerged from their holes, Hauck said, and "ran in crazy cirles" in the soot.

The air smells of fireplace soot. Where roads are not watered down, automobiles churn up 30-feet high opaque ashen clouds, and local police are issuing speeding tickets to anyone who drives faster than 15 mph.

Dust masks sold out four days ago. Yakima County health officials are issuing instructions for making dust masks out of coffee filters and rubber bands. Schools and offices are closed. The only businesses open are car washes -- now offering special rates on "volcano washes," -- and chain hamburger stands.

The talk among the orchardists here is about tonnage and "the ph factor." They estimate their fields have received five tons of soot per acre. After several days of soil tests and debate, the consensus is that the ash, while not good for the apple tree leaves, will be good for the soil. Unless, of course, it gets too deep.

The Indians say man must wait and see how angry "Si Yeet" is. The last time the mountain really got angry, it spewed ash for 17 years.