Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A friend asked me for a love story about a bear

The native peoples of the west coast tell wonderful stories about bears. Some of them are love stories, and they are beautiful and also very sad. The bear is wise and noble and loving, and the people are limited and fearful. A princess is captured by a bear who loves her. She is rescued by her brothers - perhaps because she is loved, perhaps because it is the right thing to do. Her children grow up between two worlds, sometimes choosing to be human, sometimes returning to their father, the bear. The bear gives his sons a song to teach their people, so that they will always be safe from bears.

I have been to the Rockies and heard the warnings about bears. It would be a good thing to have a song to sing to keep one safe. Certainly better than lying on the ground playing dead and hoping the bear goes away on his own.

Bears are frightening. That's why they make such good guardians. When my first son was born, my brother arrived from the Rockies with a stuffed brown bear we immediately dubbed "Ben" (after Gentle Ben from a long-ago tv series). Ben still stands guard, patiently, in the room where my sons slept. He has kept them both safe for many years.

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