Friday, January 30, 2015

Giant tales continue

Synopsis of yesterday's episode: The bears arrived at the Land of the Giants. They enjoy the hospitality of the giants, and then settle in to listen to the giants tell stories.

Continuation of Sweet Suzie Bear's journal: As Jack, the Little Giant, told his story, I saw that some of the bears were having fun with the large dishes and utensils in the banquet hall. They climbed into teacups and posed for pictures. They tried manipulating spoons and forks, and they all looked very silly. 
That was a fun time. 
Sitting on the ground underneath a tree was delightful. We heard the story of the Big Giant as we sat underneath the tree. It was a huge tree. I'm not sure of what kind of tree it is, but I think that it is an ash tree. A mountain ash, maybe.
The Big Giant related this tale:
My name is Bobby Allen. I've been wandering this land for many years. Even among the giants, I am big. There are stories that I eat the tops of trees as if they were broccoli, but that isn't true. Tree bark isn't especially tasty, even after soaking in a marinade for a week. I eat regular food, like the other giants, just more of it.
I spend a lot of time walking in the forests during the winter, when the trees are naked and the squirrels have fled. I step on the snow and it squeaks beneath my feet. The forest is where I go for quiet. There is a woman who lives in a small house in the forest. She is a human and not a giant, and she left the Land of the Humans many years ago because she wanted to live in the forest. She built her house from the fallen trees and she collects the apples that grow and she collects the berries and the nuts and the garlic that grows wild and the dandelions when they are young and she makes soups and she cans the fruits and so, she has more than enough to eat year round. 
The woman's name is Adelise. She plays the flute in the forest. The animals listen to her play, and they dance. I had heard about Adelise playing the flute for the animals but, until I saw her and heard her play the flute, I could scarcely believe it.
I've never heard flute playing like that. Adelise could coax the plants from the ground and she made the squirrels dance up and down the trees. But there was someone who didn't really like hearing the flute. He was a man named Oscar. He was either a very tall human or a very little giant. I don't know which. He was extremely grumpy. He went to live in the forest to get away from people because he said that he didn't like them. I saw him a few times when I visited the forest. He never bothered me much because I am such an enormous giant but he wasn't very nice to Adelise.
One day, Oscar stole Adelise's flute so that she could not play any more. Adelise was so sad that her flute was gone that she didn't do anything. She stopped taking care of her food and she didn't sweep her little house. She didn't go outside to visit the animals or to find water in the brook. The squirrels stopped dancing up and down the trees.
Oscar took the flute back to the cave where he was living. It was a small cave and very damp and kind of cold. Maybe that's why he got to be so grumpy. Oscar put the flute in a box filled with stuff that he stole from people in the city and people in the countryside. 
Oscar tried to play with the stuff. He pulled a yo yo from the box and played with that. He played with a deck of cards that was three cards short of a full deck. He played with some old seashells. He clanged the cymbals together with so much force that all of the animals outside of the cave scurried away. 
As Oscar was playing the the stuff, his attitude changed. He played and played and played and he realized that it was fun to play with stuff and, maybe, it might be fun to play with friends.
Oscar returned everything that he had stolen. He made friends with the squirrels.
Oscar never did learn how to play the flute. He returned the flute to Adelise.
Oscar began to sing the songs of the forest. Adelise played the flute. The animals came to listen to the music of the forest. One day, Oscar was not there anymore. Adelise looked for him, day after day. She walked away from her little house in the forest. She walked across fields and she climbed hills and she got into a canoe and paddled across a lake, but she could not find Oscar.
So she returned to her little house in the forest. The animals welcomed her. It was dark. The animals told her that the sun forgot to rise because she didn't play the flute. Someday, they said, Oscar would come back for her.
I met Adelise after Oscar had gone away. She asked me to share her story, and, so, I have. It is the story of how the little human and the big giant became friends, even though no one believed that little humans and very big giants could be friends.
Adelise reminded me to tell this story so that you would know that you can be friends with anyone, no matter what they look like, even if they are bigger than your house.
Now, I need to find some broccoli, so I will say good night.
With that, the big giant lumbered off. He footsteps sounded like thunder, which woke up Beartrand, who was getting used to solid ground again.
I think that I will make a painting here in the Land of the Giants.
Bye bye for now!


Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Tale of the Little Giant

Synopsis of yesterday's episode: George Junior talks about his life and his experiences and how he decided to become a cook.

From Sweet Suzie Bear's Journal: We have arrived at the Land of the Giants. George Junior and I hopped off the ship together. We spent a lot of time chatting during the voyage and have become good friends. My dad said that he was happy about that because he needed to attend to Beartrand. My dad didn't want me to be alone and I'm not alone because I have my friend. Beartrand has not been well. He is the most seasick bear that I've ever seen, and I've seen a lot of seasick bears, including my dad, so that's saying a lot.
Anyway, George Junior and I were both excited about being in the Land of the Giants. I brought a camera so that I could take pictures of everything being large. We went to a tea house so that we could have some tea and scones before the evening's welcome and story telling session... and the tea cups and pots were so big! We were served our tea in a child's tea party set. It really was funny. Of course, we had to be photographed with the giant tea things. I'll share another funny tea picture tomorrow.
And so, the giants served us a delicious dinner, with soup and stew and salad and something very chocolatey. George Junior knew what it was. He said that it was a moose. I am sure that I have never seen a chocolate moose but he insisted that it was a moose. Hmm. He is a silly goose... I mean human.
Then, it was time for story telling. The Giants are well known for their ability to spin a yarn and it is hard to tell if it is a true story or just fiction. Here is the story that I heard, as best as I can recall.

My name is Jack, and I am a Little Giant. Everyone thinks that all giants are big but that is not true. Some giants are bigger than others and others are littler than others. I am one of the littler giants.
When I was a very little giant, I climbed a beanstalk. I always loved beans and the very best beans were on the top of the beanstalk. My mom read to me a story about Jack, who climbed a beanstalk and found all sorts of magical things when he climbed the beanstalk. Well, I decided that I was Jack, so I could climb the beanstalk, too. There was only one problem. The other Jack must have been very, very tiny, and he must have been cousins with Tom Thumb because he really did climb the beanstalk. I was just too big. I climbed the beanstalk, and it broke and I fell on the ground with a big THUD! Oh, that hurt. My sister, Claire, watched me, and she chuckled but she didn't laugh too hard.
Claire and I decided that, since I couldn't climb a beanstalk, I should draw a picture and jump into it. So I got my set of watercolor paints and I drew a picture of someplace that I would really like to go. It was a beach. I drew the high tide, which was coming in, and sailboats, and lots of sand and lots and lots of seashells. And I jumped into the picture. I don't know how I did it but I was in the picture. Claire landed on top of me. We giggled and rolled on the ground for a while before we got up.
Claire and I walked on the beach and we tripped over the seashells because there were so many. They were every color of the rainbow. I had never seen so many colorful seashells but, then again, I painted the seashells so that's how they got to look like that.
My picture was too small for Claire and me because, even though we are little giants, the sky was too low and we had to bend over so that our heads would not hit the sky too hard.
We walked and walked and walked. We found a place where we could have ice cream and we had 20 scoops each because the cones were very tiny so each scoop was finished in half a bite. That meant that we could have 20 flavors of ice cream. It was the most delicious ice cream that I ever ate.
All of a sudden, it started to rain! The colors in our beautiful little world began to run because I made the world with watercolor paint and watercolor runs when it rains too hard.
So we fell out of our little beach back to our own world, where it was dinner time.
We walked home, feeling very happy. When we got to the house, we saw a very big giant standing there. He was taller than the house. He was the biggest giant that I'd ever seen. He had huge foot prints. I walked up to him and asked him if he was coming to visit us. He said, yes, and that he had a story that he wanted me to tell."

Tomorrow: The Little Giant shares the story of the Big Giant.

Personal Note: When I was a little girl, my father used to tell stories of a little giant to my sisters and to me. Apparently, he made them up as he went along. None of the stories were written, so we don't have any record of the stories. I was very young when he told the stories so I don't remember them. But, in the spirit of inventing stories, as my dad did, I am making up new Little Giant stories.
I dedicate this and all other stories about giants, large or small, to the memory of my father, Roy Gerard (1920-2012). Thank you, Pop, for giving me the love of storytelling. I will love you forever.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

George Junior's story

Synopsis of yesterday's episode: The sea voyage continues. Sweet Suzie Bear describes life on the sea in her journal. She enjoys swimming with dolphins and she wonders at the flying fish that are attracted to the ship's lights.

From the journal of George Junior: When I was ten years old, my dad and I got lost at sea and were rescued by Bearnacle Bear. My dad had just started working as a fisherman and he wasn't very good at steering his boat. So we got lost and we drifted aimlessly until the bears rescued us. It was an amazing experience because my dad was a prison guard and Bearnacle had been kept in the prison for, I think, two years. My dad said that he was very mean when he was a prison guard. After Bearnacle ran away, my dad understood that he had treated Bearnacle and others badly. He said that he did not like the person whom he became and he tried to change himself so that he could share kindness with others. He learned how to catch fish so that people could eat and be well fed. My dad talked about "paying it forward," but I never really understood. I think that it means that, if someone does you a favor, you do the same favor for a third person, preferably someone who doesn't expect it.
Anyway, my dad and Bearnacle ended up by becoming good friends. After Bearnacle brought us safely back home, he stayed with our family for about a week. He told us story after story about the sea, and my dad was happy that he had become a fisherman.
Being on the bears' ship after we were rescued was a real adventure for me. I was so happy to be there. I got to see every part of the ship. My favorite part was the galley, where all of the food was made. I was permitted to help prepare the food. That experience changed my life. Until then, I never thought of anything besides skipping rocks on the water and throwing snowballs and chasing my cousin through the house. After that, I thought about food. I thought about cooking food and baking food and I became a cook, sometimes in a restaurant and sometimes in ships.
My dad and I were happy to be invited to come on the bears' voyage to visit the Land of the Giants. My dad said that we can learn a lot from the bears. My best friend among the bears is Sweet Suzie Bear. She found art in the Land of the Humans and I found cooking on the bears' ship.
I spent the morning looking at a few of the paintings that Sweet Suzie Bear has made on her various sea voyages. But now, I'm going to go bake a really big cake because dinner will be our last meal aboard this ship.
Early tomorrow morning, we will land on the shores of the Land of the Giants.
I've never seen a real giant up close. I've heard the legends of Big Foot. I don't know whether to believe them or not. I'd rather just see the giants for myself.
Off I go. The cake won't bake itself.

Tomorrow: The Bear Ship arrives at the Land of the Giants, where everyone and everything are really large. A special meal is served, followed by entertainment (storytelling).

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sweet Suzie Bear swims with dolphins

Synopsis of yesterday's episode: The Bears came out of hibernation. Bearnacle Bear set sail, with Beartrand the radio announcer bear and Sweet Suzie Bear. Beartrand was quite seasick but he managed to cope and his talents as an announcer were very much in demand during social events. Sweet Suzie Bear was more adjusted to ship travel, as she was born during Bearnacle's first journey and, as a result, had her first sea journey when she was very young.

An excerpt from Sweet Suzie Bear: We are getting closer to the Land of the Giants. I had been there when I was a little cub but I barely remember anything, except that the Giants were indeed very large. I am looking forward to meeting them. I have been told that they are the best story tellers in the world and that they have a whole series of stories about a Little Giant. I am looking forward to hearing the stories.
The trip has been beautiful and quite delightful. Bearnacle is a great captain. He is happy to be at sea and he really knows everything about the ship. Anytime I have a question, he takes the time to give me a complete answer. Like I wanted to know about the flying fish that come out when the lights are shining from the ship at night. It was amazing to watch the flying fish jump up to four feet out of the water and then go back in again. They come in large schools of fish and they jump as a group and, wow, that is amazing.
One of these days, I might paint a picture of flying fish jumping as a group.
I played a little bit with mixed media but, mostly, I just watched the water.

Yesterday, we got treated to a show of dolphins leaping and dancing near the starboard side of the ship. A few crew members got into a life boat and jumped into the sea from that. They danced with the dolphins in the water. I watched for a while and then one of the crew members invited me to come dance with the dolphins, too, so I did. The water felt cold at first but it didn't take long for me to get used to it. I swam with the dolphins and, oh, there is nothing like it. What a treat! I will never forget swimming with the dolphins! It was one of the most joyous experiences that I've ever had.
Tomorrow, we will arrive at the Land of the Giants.
Bye for now!
Sweet Suzie Bear

Monday, January 26, 2015

Beartrand goes to sea

Synopsis of Friday's episode: The bears went into hibernation amidst the snow and wind and coldness of winter.

When the bears awoke from hibernating, soft little leaves had sprouted from their buds and the trees were covered with flowers. It was time for Bearnacle Bear to take another voyage with his crew. He had some guests who were coming along for the trip to visit the Land of the Giants. The guests were the human fishermen George and George Junior, the radio station announcer Beartrand, and the artist Sweet Suzie Bear.

An entry from the diary of Beartrand, the radio station bear: It has been four days since we left our homeland. Before we left, there was a big parade to celebrate our sea journey. Very few bears have ever visited the Land of the Giants. We only know about the Land of the Giants because of the shipwreck that Bearnacle experienced while on his first voyage as a captain.
I remember when I first met Bearnacle. It was shortly before I interviewed him. I had no idea that he was a sea captain.  I even thought that Bearnacle regularly stowed away on ships and that he was a petty crook. Well, nothing could be further from the truth, although, as it turned out, Bearnacle did stow away on a ship when he was a cub and he didn't want to go to school. So he wandered away from school one day and he saw a ship in the harbor with the gangplank down. He wanted to look at the ship and he walked up the gangplank and started poking around below deck. Before he could get off the ship and go home, the ship departed with Bearnacle on it! The ship's crew treated him like a mascot and, after that, Bearnacle decided to be a ship's captain. When he returned home after a short sea voyage, Bearnacle's parents were mad and his teachers were mad and his brothers were jealous!
Well, anyway, I never got to have such an adventure when I was a cub so I suppose that I should be jealous, too. But no. I don't think so. I'm happy with the path that I took. I always wanted to be a radio announcer. I loved all of the new music and I sang in a band. I didn't sing well. Mostly, I just yelled the lyrics. Mom and Dad kicked me out of the house for making all of that noise. They said that I could come back in the house when I wasn't singing, which would be dinner time because they knew that I wouldn't make such a racket when I was enjoying my food. They told me that I could start singing in the house when they started going deaf. I still can't sing and Mom and Dad are still not deaf.
They were happy when I chose talking over singing and they were happy when Little Sister Bearlinda chose singing over talking. She talked incessantly, even in her sleep, but she sang like an angel. She even joined the opera.
Anyway, that was all a long time ago.
Now the sea voyage. It's my first. I've never traveled in a big ship before. On my first day, I got sea sick. All of that rocking in big waves. I thought that the ship was going to tip over. I made the mistake of telling Bearnacle that we would probably tip over and he laughed and laughed. I'm not sure why that was funny.
Needless to say, we didn't tip over.
I am now used to the waves and to the ship moving this way and that. The scenery, though. That's a challenge for someone who lives totally on land. It's always water that reaches up to touch the sky. Every day, the water looks the same. Sweet Suzie Bear assures me that the water really looks different and that the color of the water reflects the color of the sky. I'm not sure that I see that. She sets up an easel every morning and she paints the sea and the sky. She says that they are hard to paint so she wants to practice as much as she can.
Her paintings look like sea and sky paintings to me. It doesn't look like she has a hard time painting them.
She didn't get seasick but, then again, she was practically born on a ship so she was born with what Bearnacle calls "sea legs."
I hear a bell so it is dinner time. One of my three favorite times of day! After dinner, we're going to have a dance, and I will be the emcee. What fun that will be.
Well, I'll write again later.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Hibernation Time

Hibernation:  Hibernation in bears lasts up to seven months. Bears do not eat, drink, pee, or poop when they are hibernating. Hibernation is almost like being in suspended animation or stasis. Bears will go into hibernation when the weather becomes cold and, when spring begins, the bears come out of hibernation. The bears hibernate because, in the winter, their favorite foods (nuts and berries) become difficult to obtain. Bears survive on their stored fat. Shortly before hibernation time, bears eat massive quantities of food, building up fat in their bodies. The bears' heartbeat becomes extremely slow, about ten beats per minute, and the bears' body temperature drops dramatically. During hibernation, bears can lose anywhere from fifteen to forty percent of their body weight.

Bearnacle Bear, Bertrand, Sweet Suzie Bear, and all of the other bears have gone into hibernation.

Hibernation Haiku:
snow falls on oak trees,
covering branches with white.
Time for bears to sleep.

Naked trees stand tall
all the fruit has been picked clean
nothing left to eat.

A dark den awaits
as bears sleepily crawl in
hibernation time.

The sun sets early
and stars glitter in the night
earth's beauty is cold.

Sleep well, little bear,
may your dreams be beautiful
in your long, long sleep.

Monday's tale: The bears wake from their hibernation, and Bearnacle Bears and friends begin their voyage to the Land of the Giants.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Floral painting in a Chinese style

Today, I went to Stella Niagara, in Lewiston, New York, for a painting class. Normally, I go twice a month to this class. Two weeks ago, the class was canceled, due to terrible weather. It was snowing sideways, creating whiteout conditions, so I was happy to stay at home and paint a bear. Today, it was relatively warm and it was sunny, so I went to paint at Stella Niagara.
The theme of the class was flowers done in a Chinese style. We had to adapt the lesson because we didn't really have the proper tools to make the painting look Chinese. The main tool that we were lacking was a very soft paintbrush. Our instructor, Virginia, told us that we would find the paintbrushes to be difficult to handle and that we would need one class session just to learn how to manipulate the paintbrush. We will have such a lesson at some point in the spring.
This morning, before I went to the class, I watched a video on the Internet that demonstrated a Chinese technique of painting flowers. It was interesting to watch. The artist used a lot of paint and a lot of water. He began to paint immediately, without making a sketch first. He spoke in Chinese, without any subtitles, so I didn't understand a word of it, but I did enjoy watching it. Click on the video below and you can watch and listen, too, if you like.

The painting at the top was the start of my painting. I used red paint and added lots and lots of water. Here, I am adding details to the flower, as well as a little yellow.
Here, I am beginning to add leaves. and to paint in stems, very lightly.

I add more leaves and more detail, until I reach this point. This is when I decide that the painting is finished. One of the more challenging things for me when doing watercolor is making the decision not to paint anymore. It is very easy to overwork a watercolor painting!
And here we go! The completed painting! A large flower, which is really a pleasure to see in the middle of the winter. It is a type of lily. I had a load of fun making this painting. Watch the video and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow, we hibernate

Synopsis of yesterday's episode:  Beartrand Bear enjoyed the reception and he also interviewed Sweet Suzie Bear. She let him know that she wanted to go to the Land of the Giants, along with Beartrand Bear, Bearnacle Bear, and his crew. 

Beartrand Bear enjoyed a wide variety of foods and he walked around the gallery, viewing the paintings. There were a wide variety of styles. Most of the paintings featured bears in different places. Some of the bears were realistic and others were abstract. A few of the paintings featured only color and form and no bears or humans or giants. One of those paintings looked very geometric and fascinating. One side of the painting was all primary colors (red, yellow, and blue), and the other side of the painting was all secondary colors (orange, purple, and green). Beartrand took a look at the artist's statement.
"In art school, I spent a lot of time making color wheels, as do all art students. I learned that colors are connected to each other and that the world is full of color. Art is about color and shape. And, because color and shape are life, art is life. Without art, the world would not know joy. Our world would be less colorful and more dull. I am so fortunate that I can share this vision with the world through my painting. Therefore, I have named this painting 'A World of Color, A World of Life.' As you go about your life in the beautiful Land of Bears, I hope that you will always notice the colors of the world.'"
Beartrand Bear went to the studio to finish reporting on the evening's event. He was happy and ready to hibernate.

Friday's episode: The Bears hibernate. There will be a surprise waiting for you on Friday.  Tomorrow, I will take a break to share the painting that I will do at Stella Niagara at my art class there.

Notes about today's painting: Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) contributed to a movement called De Stijl, which is a Dutch term, meaning "the style." Another name for De Stijl is "neoplasticism." The style is nonrepresentational and abstract. It is focused on geometric shapes. The painting above was based on Composition II in Red, Yellow, and Blue (1930). This style of geometric shapes and colors can be seen in Frank Lloyd Wright's stained glass windows in the houses that he designed, such as the Darwin Martin house in Buffalo and Fallingwater in Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Celebrating Modern Art Bear

Synopsis of yesterday's story: Beartrand Bear went to the opening reception of the Modern Art Bear show. He interviewed Bearnabus Bear, the owner of the gallery. He was surprised by Bearnacle Bear, who invited him to join the next sea voyage, to begin after the bears wake from their hibernation. They were going to visit the Land of the Giants.
Beartrand wondered when Sweet Suzie Bear would be ready for an interview but, in the meantime, there was food to eat and conversations to be had. Bearbara, the opera singer, pushed through the crowd to talk to Beartrand. She always liked hearing her voice on the radio and she looked disappointed that he had put his microphone away. He realized that she would like to be interviewed so he took his microphone out of its case and pointed it at Bearbara's face. Her face lit up because she truly thrived on attention.
"Bearbara, what motivated you to come to the opening of the Modern Art Bear show?"
"Oh, I just love modern art, almost as much as opera! The two go together sort of like peanut butter and jelly."
"Peanut butter and jelly?" asked Beartrand, surveying the table full of food. He suddenly realized that he was holding a microphone but no plate. He picked up a plate and tried to put food on it but failed because he did not have a free hand. Bearbara did collect brie cheese, Camembert, crackers, melon balls, grapes, and strawberries. She began eating delicately, trying not to crunch while she was being interviewed.
"Oh yes, peanut butter and jelly. Soup and crackers. You know. Things that go together. Anyway, I thought that I would meet people and talk to the media and do all of those fun things."
Suddenly bored with the interview, Bearbara abruptly walked away. Beartrand turned off the microphone. He filled a plate with food and started eating. He was hungry and knew that it was time to fatten up before he began his hibernation cycle. Just as Beartrand took a taste of the brie cheese, up walked Sweet Suzie Bear.
"Would you like to come to my office? I have time to do the interview right now. The owner of the museum is going to give a fundraising presentation and, as you've already interviewed him, you don't really need to go to that. Oh, and take a look at this painting. We were thrilled to be able to acquire it."
Beartrand read the artist statement: "Several years ago, a bear took a sea voyage. It was his second voyage as captain of his ship. He traveled to the Land of the Giants, where he met creatures who looked like humans but who were much larger. In fact, the humans that the sea captain met were afraid of the giants and called them by such odd names as 'Sasquatch,' 'Big Foot,' and 'Yeti.'
"I had gone on the sea voyage as an observer, an artist in residence so to speak. It was my goal to document the journey across the sea, as well as day-to-day living in the Land of the Giants. This mixed media painting, which was done in marker and in watercolor, captures one of the friendly exchanges between a giant and a bear. The giant, whom I painted, was my host during my visit. He too is an artist, and his media of choice is sculpture. He prefers to create abstract sculptures that express the idea of longing for something that he cannot reach and dreaming of crossing the sea. He has never left the Land of the Giants. I titled the painting 'Giant Hugs Bear' to depict the warmth of this giant."
--Bearta, the artist Bear
Beartrand finished reading the artist statement, and he followed Sweet Suzie Bear to her office. He got out his microphone and switched it on and announced that he was going to interview the curator of the Modern Art Bear Exhibit, Sweet Suzie Bear. Even before he could ask a question, Sweet Suzie Bear began to talk.
"Thank you for coming to the exhibit of Modern Art Bear. I suppose your listeners want to know something about modern art. Well, modern art can be representational or nonrepresentational. In other words, there is either a picture you can recognize or there is a picture that just looks like shapes and forms.
"I really like nonrepresentational art because it challenges the viewer to think and to look very carefully to find meaning in the art. There are as many meanings in a painting as there are bears looking at the painting. Some bears are afraid to describe what they see in the painting because they think that they may be wrong.
"But I am here to tell you that you don't have to worry about being wrong. Your interpretation of the painting is just as valid as mine or anyone else's. Your enjoyment of the painting is what matters. Even if you don't like the painting, that is OK. You will take something away with you, even if you find the painting to be just one big yuck.
"We would love it if you would come visit the gallery at least once before you hibernate. Please think of it and come soon."
Beartrand looked at Sweet Suzie Bear. "Wow. That's great. I'm glad that you mentioned the Land of the Giants because I will be reporting from there after my hibernation is finished. Do you have any advice on what to look for in the Land of the Giants?"
"No," said Sweet Suzie Bear. "I was there only once, when I was very young. I'd love to go. Are you going in Bearnacle's ship?"
"Yes," said Beartrand. He looked at the microphone and wondered how he had managed to lose control of the interviewer. He was supposed to ask the questions.
"May I please come with you? Please? With a cherry on top of the nectar pie?"
"Um. I will have to ask Bearnacle."
Beartrand suddenly remembered that he was interviewing Sweet Suzie Bear. "Do you have anything else to add about this exhibit?"
"Yes," Sweet Suzie Bear said. "There are a wide range of styles represented in this show. Please come. You'll have a great time, and we are looking forward to seeing you."
"Thank you so much," said Beartrand. The two shook hands and Beartrand left.

Tomorrow: Eating like there's no tomorrow because it's almost time to hibernate.

Notes about today's painting:  Today's painting is based on Self-portrait (1907) by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). Pablo Picasso, who was born in Spain with the given name "Pablo Ruiz de Picasso"), was the son of an artist who taught at the School of Fine Arts in Malaga, Spain.
Pablo Picasso was one of several artists who pioneered the use of collage in painting. He was instrumental in creating several art movements, including cubism and surrealism. He was considered to be creative and original.
The self portrait is one of Picasso's earlier works, when he was transitioning from representational to nonrepresentational images to express his artistic vision.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Opening Reception for the Modern Art Bear Show

Synopsis of Friday's story: Beartrand Bear tried to interview Sweet Suzie Bear but was foiled once again. The first time, he was foiled by the presence of a school group. This time, he was foiled by a caterer who came to discuss the menu for that evening's reception.

Beartrand Bear brought his handy dandy microphone to the reception at the Art Museum. He could tell that Sweet Suzie Bear was easily distracted and that doing the interview with her was going to be more challenging that he had anticipated.
A line had formed outside of the Art Museum. The bears and even a few humans were dressed up and were ready for an evening that involved food and fundraisers. A tall bear stood near the door. Beartrand Bear recognized the tall bear as Bearnabus, the owner of the art gallery.
"Would you like to talk to my listeners about the Art Museum?" asked Beartrand breathlessly as he waved the microphone as close to Bearnabus' face as he could. Since Beartrand was a rather short bear, he couldn't reach the microphone to Bearnabus' face.
Bearnabus took the microphone and held it to his face. "Of course. I am always happy to talk about my Art Museum. It is a real treasure in Bear Land. Even the humans who come from the Land of the Humans and the giants who come from the Land of the Giants like visiting our Art Museum and seeing the creativity of our artistic Bears. I would also like to mention that everyone is welcome to donate to the museum so that we can have more exhibits like the Modern Art Bear show."
"When can people come visit the show and how do they make donations to the museum?"
"The museum is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from ten o'clock in the morning until seven o'clock in the evening for the next two weeks, which is when we go into our hibernation cycle. As for making donations, we have cans and jars and envelopes for these donations. We also offer memberships to the museum. When you come to the museum, just ask about the membership and one of our helpful staff will be happy to assist you."
"Thank you very much," said Beartrand Bear.
After waiting for about fifteen minutes, Beartrand Bear and the rest of the bears were able to go inside the museum when a museum guard opened the door and announced that the reception would start momentarily.
Beartrand was looking at a painting of a bear posing with a human in what looked like a tropical jungle. He began reading the artist statement by Sweet Suzie Bear.

"As a student at the art academy in the Land of the Humans, I met a family of giants. One giant, named Tina, asked if she could pose for a photograph with me. She wanted the photograph to be done in the wild forest, so we went out to an area with big leaves and giant trees. After the photography session, I used the photograph of Tina and me as the basis of a painting. When Tina isn't posing for photographs, she is an opera singer and vocal coach."
Then someone poked his shoulder. Beartrand jumped and then turned around. It was Bearnacle Bear and his first mate, the father of Sweet Suzie Bear.
"Hey Beartrand," Bearnacle Bear announced without even bother to say "hello" or "how are you" or any of the things that were said at the beginnings of conversations. "We are going on a sea voyage to the Land of the Giants and we want you to come with us so that your listeners can hear the giants stories. There is a special giant that everyone calls the Little Giant. All of the stories are about the Little Giant. Will you come with us?"
Beartrand was so startled at the invitation that he almost forgot to respond and he almost forgot that he had a live microphone in his paw.
"Um, er. Yes. Oh! The microphone. Listeners! I am going to have an adventure and I will share it with you." Beartrand turned off the microphone and stopped taping. "When do we leave?"
"Three days after we finish hibernating."
And with that, Bearnacle and his first mate ran over to see Sweet Suzie Bear.
Beartrand wondered when Sweet Suzie Bear would be ready for an interview but, in the mean time, there was food to eat and conversations to be had...

Tomorrow: The reception continues.

Notes about today's painting: "Self Portrait with Monkey," painted in 1938, was one of many self portraits painted by Frida Kahlo, a Mexican artist who was married to Diego Rivera, a famous muralist. Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) painted many self portraits. Her artwork was described at various times as naive or primitive or as surrealistic. Frida Kahlo disagreed with the surrealistic label and said that her paintings represented reality, rather than dreams.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Modern Art Bear: A Bear Screams

Synopsis of Thursday's story: Beartrand Bear went to the art museum to view the new exhibit, titled Modern Art Bear, and to interview the curator, Sweet Suzie Bear. 

Just as the interview was supposed to begin, Sweet Suzie Bear's assistant entered the gallery, out of breath from running.
"The caterer for tonight's event needs to talk to you. It is something about a change in the menu," said the assistant.
"So sorry," said Sweet Suzie Bear. "I do have to take care of this. Will you come to the event tonight? There will be delicious food and loads of nectar, and we can do the interview then. Why don't you invite your listeners? The event is open to the public."
"OK," said Beartrand. "I'll be back tonight."
Sweet Suzie Bear and her assistant left, and Beartrand walked over to the painting titled "A Bear Screams." He wondered what the artist was thinking and what the bear in the painting was screaming and covering his ears. Beartrand remembered a time when he was screaming and covering his ears. It turned out that he had an ear infection and his ears were ringing for about three weeks after he went to the Bear Clinic. He was just a bear cub at the time and his mama bear poured all sorts of smelly stuff in his ears so that they would stop hurting. It was winter, and he was happy when it was time to hibernate. After he woke up, his ears did not hurt anymore.
But the painting. The Bear did not look happy. Beartrand took a look at the artist's statement:
"What is the difference between a bear singing and a bear screaming? Visually, maybe not too much. Either way, the bear is trying to get out a message that is probably urgent so the bear is using unusual methods of communication.
"The screaming bear holds his ears to shut out the world, so that he can experience his inner world. Or maybe the screaming bear holds his ears to hear his thoughts in a world gone mad with chaotic noise.
"As an artist, I decided to use color and image to depict the over stimulation that we receive on a daily basis from a glut of sensory information.
"The colors of night and of life that flow on and on, like a river, are things that I hoped to translate to canvas."
Beartrand Bear stared at the painting for quite a while and then walked back to the radio station. He hosted his jazz program during the afternoon and then returned to the art gallery for the big event.

Monday's story: More modern art paintings at the Bear Museum and a surprise for Beartrand Bear.

Notes about today's painting:  Edvard Munch's "The Scream" was painted four times, between the years 1893 and 1910. Two of these were done in pastel and two were painted, probably in oils. Edvard Munch (1863-1944) was Norwegian, and the styles that he was known best for included expressionism and symbolism. "The Scream" is considered to be an autobiographical painting. For more information about this fascinating painting, take a look at this webpage: The Scream!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Modern Art Bear Museum, part one

Beartrand Bear woke up early in the morning. He was excited about going to the art museum and reporting on site about the newest art exhibit. He had made an appointment to have the art museum's curator, Sweet Suzie Bear, tell him about several paintings that were being featured in the exhibit.
After a delicious breakfast of bread and jam and tea, Beartrand Bear set off for the art museum. It was a cold day. Beartrand wondered why he hadn't started hibernating yet but he figured that a good hibernation could wait until after the art museum visit.
When Beartrand Bear, carrying his handy dandy microphone and recording device, arrived at the art museum, he saw Sweet Suzie Bear surrounded by a group of bear cubs and their teacher. Sweet Suzie Bear called Beartrand Bear over.
"I'm giving this class a tour of the museum, and you are welcome to join us," Sweet Suzie Bear said.
The group immediately went to the stairs and climbed up one flight, where the new exhibit was being displayed. A colorful sign was on the door. It read, "Bears in Modern Art: A Retrospective."
"Does anyone know what the word 'restrospective' means?" asked Sweet Suzie Bear. No one did. The students, the teacher, and Beartrand did not know the meaning of the word "retrospective."
"Well, usually, the word is used to describe looking back at the career of one artist. What has that artist done in the past and how did the artist's work change over time? At our museum, we are using that word a little differently. We are looking at a subject, which is Bears in Modern Art and how bears have been depicted in paintings. Does anyone have any questions before we go look at a painting?"
"What is modern art?"
"Are the paintings big or little?"
"Where is the bathroom?"
Sweet Suzie Bear answered all of the questions. She said, "What is modern art is a very good question? Does anyone have an idea?"
"It is art that is not ancient, like cave art," said one small bear cub.
"That is a very good answer," said Sweet Suzie Bear. "There is a little bit more. Modern artists create new and different things by painting or with sculpture. Their artwork does not have to be realistic. It is up to us to decide what the artwork means."
The group went into the exhibition hall. Sweet Suzie Bear led them to a portrait of a bear wearing a hat and and reddish orange sweater and the group discussed the painting. They agreed that the bear looked cold and that it was probably snowing outside. They said that they saw a teapot and that the bear probably wanted tea with honey.
"Have you noticed the artist statement on the wall?" Sweet Suzie Bear asked. "That's where the artist describes what he or she was thinking and feeling when the painting was being made."
One of the bear cubs read the artist statement:
"I used to love watching my Mama Bear wear her wonderful hats. She had hats of every color that she would wear when she went out. Now, she prefers to wear her favorite hat.
"This painting is made on mixed media paper with acrylic paints.
"The painting is my expression of joy at the thought of my mother going out into the world, wearing her colorful hat and her bright sweater."
"OK group," said the teacher. "It is time for lunch!"
The teacher led the cubs away from the painting and told Sweet Suzie Bear that they would return after their lunch.
Sweet Suzie Bear told Beartrand Bear that she would do an interview with him while the students were off having their lunch.

Tomorrow: The interview and another painting

Note on Today's Painting: This painting is an adaptation of a painting by Henri Matisse (1869-1954).

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Home Again!

Synopsis of yesterday's episode: Bearnacle Bear and the crew are welcomed to the Land of the Humans when they bring George and Little George home. Bearnacle is even given the key to the city by the mayor. After a week of new friendships, it is time for the ship to return to the Land of the Bears.
We had a tearful goodbye with our human friends and we got into our ship and sailed away.
A few days later, we returned home. It felt good to see our own coastline. We had been gone for a long time. My parents looked older than I remembered them. Their faces looked tired, but happy.
We ate the best foods and drank our fill of nectar. We were serenaded by the Bearish Chorus, made of bears of all ages. It was a delight to hear all of the Bear music. We all sang the Bear Anthem together.
Late at night, I walked alone to the coast. I wanted to see the sea. It would be a while before I would go on another journey of exploration. For now, I was going to heal and enjoy home and family.
The sea monster and the mermaid were just off the coast, floating gracefully in the calm sea. The sea looked like a sheet of glass, reflecting the full moon.

The mermaid sang:
Sun and moon and stars
shine beautifully for you
they will never leave.

A cold wind blows through
and old leaves fly from the trees
they are swept away.

The snow flies sideways
underneath dark cloudy skies
of frozen winter.

Crocuses pop out
with pastel colors and light
World being reborn.

The sea monster added, "We are never far. You can see us when you venture forth again. We'll just say so long but never good bye."

And with a swish of the tails, both the sea monster and the mermaid were gone. Later, I told my friends about the sea monster and the mermaid and her songs but all assured me that I had probably enjoyed too much nectar.

Back in the radio station: Beartrand Bear said, "Well, that was one heck of a tale. Thank you so much. That suggestion of nectar was a good one. How about if I treat you to a glass or two?"
"OK," said Bearnacle Bear. "But I want to tell you one last thing before we sign off. I just want to tell you that Sweet Suzie Bear did go to the Art Academy in the Land of the Humans. She's the curator of our Art Gallery, and she's opening a new exhibit titled Modern Art Bear. Why don't you go there and do an on-site story?"
"Thank you, Bearnacle. I believe that I will. Now, how about that nectar?"


(Tomorrow: Sweet Suzie Bear and the Modern Art Bear exhibit)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Art, Music, and New Friends

Synopsis of yesterday's episode: Bearnacle Bear and crew set off in their newly built ship. It was an uneventful trip until a struggling sailboat appeared close by. The occupants were humans: a father and a son. The father had been a jailer in the prison where Bearnacle Bear was kept until he escaped. Bearnacle and George (the human) were able to settle their differences. The ship set off to take George and Little George home.

When we arrived at that coast that I remembered from my nightmares, an amazing and unusual sight greeted us. Humans were on the shore. They held up signs reading, "Welcome Bear Ship!" and the trees were decorated with balloons and streamers. The mayor of the nearby city welcomed us as we disembarked.
All of the humans and bears gathered together and the mayor began to speak.
"Welcome Bears," said the mayor. "We are so happy that you have come to visit our land. We are also so happy that you brought our fisherman and his son back to his home. Bearnacle Bear, you have suffered far too much at the hands of our people. We apologize for that, and we want you to know that no bear from your land will ever suffer like that again. 
"We are so grateful that your ship brought our fisherman back. Therefore, I am offering you a key to the city. May your visit be joyful, and may our friendship last a long time."
The key to the city, attached to a beautiful handmade chain, was placed around my neck. Immediately, I was surrounded by a crowd of humans and of bears. I received and gave many hugs within the space of a few minutes. 
The ceremony was followed by a delicious meal, held at a hall in the city. The hall was decorated with colorful balloons and streamers. We ate zucchini, tomatoes, green beans, brown rice, portabella mushrooms, shittake mushrooms, a variety of fish dishes, and cornbread. We drank apple cider. We had the most delicate and sweetest cookies for dessert.
After the meal, we were offered a tour of the humans' city. My first mate and his wife (our navigator) and their little daughter, Sweet Suzie Bear, went off to the art gallery. The rest of us went to the concert hall to hear a performance of some of the humans' best classical music. We heard piano music by Frederic Chopin, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Wolfgang Mozart and many others. After the pianist stopped playing, one of the bear cubs climbed on the piano and sat there until her picture was taken.
We stayed with the humans for a week. We all stayed with host families, and we made friends that will last a lifetime. My host was George, his wife Sandra, and their son Little George. George told me that he had felt so bad about the way that he treated me at the prison that he quit his job as a jailer and became a fisherman. He is training his son to be kind to all living creatures.
During the week that we stayed with the humans, little Sweet Suzie Bear became enamored with the art museum. She went to a few of the free art classes offered by the art museum and she decided that she wanted to come back to the Land of the Humans when she grew up so that she could go to the Art Academy. The head of the Art Academy assured her that her place in the school would wait for her and that she would always be welcome.
We had a tearful goodbye with our human friends and we got into our ship and sailed away.
A few days later, we returned home...

(note: The conclusion of the story, which includes the mermaid's welcome home song, will appear here tomorrow)

Monday, January 12, 2015

Homeward Bound

Synopsis of Saturday's  episode:  Bearnacle Bear delights in his reunion with his crew and in watching the antics of the bear cubs who were born in his absence. The bears build a new ship and they set off for home.
Within a few weeks, the ship was built, and it was time to set off for home.
Even though I knew that the time had come to leave this island that had healing herbs growing wild, I felt sad. All of us had grown contented in our stay here.
We moved our possessions into the ship, and we pulled up the anchor and we were off.
Sailing back home was much less eventful than our journey from our homeland. There were no storms, no sirens, and no one fell out of the ship. We worked together quietly and the bear cubs enjoyed running around the ship. Everything was new to them, and it was fun watching them discover all of the nooks and crannies in a ship. One of the bear cubs discovered a giant bottle. One of our crew members found that bottle when he visited the Land of the Giants shortly after we were shipwrecked. The Giants were very hospitable, the crew member reported. They gave him the bottle as a gift so that he would always remember the Land of the Giants. I had heard about the Land of the Giants but I never believed that it was real. I always thought that it was a legend.
We were getting closer to home and our journey was still quiet. One day, we spotted a small fishing boat that was drifting in the sea. We wondered what was wrong and we pulled up to that boat. The first mate helped the occupants of that boat onto our ship. They were soaking wet and they were a man and a boy. Humans.
The anger that I felt toward humans suddenly rose to the surface. I looked at the man and the boy with hatred in my heart. Suddenly, I remembered who the man was. He was one of my jailers who had tormented me for however long I had spent in the humans' prison. He had told me that I was a worthless creature and a terrorist. Soon, I would be in the zoo and the humans would point and laugh. My time in prison was very long. The sun shone brightly when I came and then the rains came, followed by the snow, and then the sun came back and the trees regained their leaves. And I was still in prison. After a few more changes in seasons, I finally escaped.
I told my first mate that this human was an enemy and should be treated as such.
"You spent too much time in the humans' prison," the first mate said. "We don't have enemies. We are on a voyage of exploration, not war."
I looked over the edge of the ship. The humans' boat had sunk. Only the sail could be seen above water. The humans could not leave in the same way in which they arrived.
My former jailer was wet from head to toe. He looked tired and worn out. The boy was wet but seemed more energetic. He found the bear cubs and began rolling on the floor with them. As much as I did not want to, I found the human cub's antics to be funny. He was not as good as rolling as a bear cub but he laughed gleefully every time he rolled with the bear cubs. The former jailer looked at me and I could tell from the look on his face that he recognized me.
"Oh," said the former jailer. "You are the bear that we kept in prison for landing illegally on our shores. You escaped."
"Yes, I escaped," I said slowly. The words felt as if they were stuck in my throat.
"You really are a captain of a ship. You're not a terrorist," said the former jailer.
"Yes," I said, not wishing to continue the conversation. I looked over the side of the ship. I could jump into one of the life rafts and sail away. The sea had become choppy, and the sky was turning dull gray.
"I am sorry," said the former jailer. "The word 'sorry' doesn't give you back the portion of your life that we took away, but it is a start."
I scrutinized the man's face. His dark blond hair hung limply over his eyes, which were red and swollen. His eyes were a deep shade of brown. 
I could feel the anger lifting from my heart and my head. My head felt clearer than it had since before I had been snatched at that beach and placed in the humans' prison. The hate was gone from my heart. I looked at the man and smiled.
"Thank you," I said. "My name is Bearnacle Bear. I am the captain of this ship. We will take you home to your land."
"I'd like to radio my nation if you have a radio," the human said. "My name is George, and my son is Little George." George went to use the radio and to send his message. We sailed off in the direction of the Land of the Humans. I no longer felt fear about landing on their shores.
When we arrived at that coast that I remembered from my nightmares, an amazing and unusual sight greeted us...

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Cave, part two

Synopsis of yesterday's episode: Bearnacle Bear is reunited with his crew. They are living in a cave. He doesn't know how long they have been there and how they got there. When he sees that there are bear cubs in the cave, Bearnacle Bear realizes that he may have been a prisoner of the humans for longer than he realized. Bearnacle Bear feels anger and hatred against the humans for having treated him so badly.
The bears had a giant feast to celebrate the return of their captain.
After that, I slept soundly for many hours.
When I awoke, I saw another painting in the cave. It had more detail and brighter colors than the paintings near the entrance to the cave. In this part of the cave, the sunlight never penetrated. There were lanterns all over to give illumination to a dark place. I sat up slowly. Every bone in my body hurt. I had not relaxed in many months, ever since the ship crashed on the shore of the land of the humans. All of the pain of two crashes and of being held captive filled my body. I sat slowly and then fell back onto the soft bed that the first mate had made for me. I could barely move.
The ship's cook brought me a light broth. I looked at it and at the cook. I did not want anything. My crew was marooned, and it was my fault. The cook, however, would not take no for an answer. If I didn't want the cook to keep staring at me, I had to eat the broth.
It was delicious. It had a beautiful aroma, of fresh herbs that had been gathered that morning. Small pieces of herbs floated on the top. The broth tasted of springtime and of green fields and of better days to come.
And there would be better days to come.
In the weeks following, my strength returned. I got to know my crew again and to delight in the cubs that had been born when we were separated. Their antics delighted me. I went with the cook to gather the herbs for the soups and stews that we were to eat. We all sang in the morning and danced in the evening.
One day, I watched the sun rise, and I knew that it was time to go home. It was time to gather the materials to build a ship. We had, among our crew, several ship builders.
Within a few weeks, the ship was built, and it was time to set off for home.
Even though I knew that the time had come to leave this island that had healing herbs growing wild, I felt sad. All of us had grown contented in our stay here.
We moved our possessions into the ship, and we pulled up the anchor and...
(to be continued on Monday)

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Cave

My mind and my heart were filled with a chaotic jumble of things and images, and I felt trapped on the bottom of the sea.

Synopsis of the last episode: Bearnacle Bear was led by the sea monster to the other side of the island, where he discovered his first mate alive and well. "Bearnacle! Come with me! You will love it here!" the first mate exclaimed. He did tend to speak in dramatic exclamations.
I wondered if I was dead and experiencing some sort of afterlife. After all, the seasick sailor could not have survived falling into the swirling sea.
Or could he?
"You fell into the sea during a tempest," I said, as we walked into the cave. The cave walls were decorated with faded paintings that I could barely make out. The colors were mainly light browns and yellows and reds. I thought that there had been blues and greens and purples at one point, but these colors were gone. The paintings must have been very old. I wondered who the artist was. I spent so much time looking at and trying to understand the paintings that I did not hear anything that the first mate said. I decided that, since his words did not penetrate my ears, he was probably a ghost.
"Are you a ghost?" I asked.
"Oh no. I am as real as you are," the first mate said happily. I thought that he was going to break into song. In a musical play, this would be a good spot for someone to sing a heartfelt solo about the beauty of caves. But no. He didn't sing. The first mate actually had a lovely singing voice, just like his uncle, the famous Luke ("Lucky") Bearvarotti. All of the lady bears were in love with the magnificent tenor voice of my uncle and, when he died, they were heartbroken. There was much weeping and wailing at Lucky's funeral, which was done in silence because Lucky's children fought with the quartet that was supposed to sing at the funeral. They all stomped out of the church in disgust and said that no one was to speak to them like that.
But that was a long time ago, when I myself was a mere cub.
The first mate told me that the paintings were made by the ancestors of the humans. I could feel the hair standing on end all over my body. I hated the humans for what they did to me in their prison. Seeing the first mate standing in the cave, looking well-fed and happy, I began to wonder how long it had been since the ship was lost.
"How long have you been here?" I asked the first mate.
"Oh about a year, give or take a few days. We tell time by the sun. We live a peaceful, natural life, and we have healed from our disaster," the first mate said calmly. My hair was still standing on end, as I remembered the human guards taunting me, telling me that I would soon be in the zoo and that I would never see the sea again. It was then that I learned hate. I had never hated anyone before. I was always a happy bear who loved everything and everyone. This was true no more.
"Who are 'we'?" I asked the first mate.
And then, as we walked deeper into the cave, I saw my whole crew. Before I knew it, I was on the bottom of a pile of hugging, happy bears. Unseen by the other bears, I wept bitter tears because I was no longer a loving, happy bear.
My mind and my heart were filled with a chaotic jumble of things and images. It was almost as if I were living on the bottom of the sea.
I then noticed that there were small bear cubs amidst my crew. Apparently, they really had been in the cave long enough to have little families.
The bears had a giant feast to celebrate the return of their captain.
After that, I slept soundly for many hours.
When I awoke, I saw...
(to be continued)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The tale of the Sea Monster (part one)

Synopsis of yesterday's episode: Bearnacle Bear was on an island, alone. He had to search for food and he didn't know where he would sleep. He was, however, grateful to have survived the storm that left him once again shipwrecked.

I walked to the other side of the island. Everything was green and aromatic there. I had washed up on the rocky side of the island. On this side of the island, there were birch trees, maple trees, ash trees, tulip trees, oaks, and sycamores. There were also white pine trees and cedars. The trees formed a canopy over my head. I then came upon orchards of apples and pears and peaches.
And then, I heard a voice. It was coming from the water. But it didn't sound like the mermaid. The voice was stronger and louder than the delicate singing voice of the mermaid. I walked to the shore and I saw a sea monster rising from the water. The sea monster was green and blue and seaweed fell of its back. It was the hugest sea creature that I had ever seen in all of my years as a sailor. I shook with terror, afraid that he would swamp the entire island and that I would drown alone and forgotten by all beardom.
Had I escaped from the humans' prison, just to endure a watery grave at the hands? flippers? tail? of a giant sea monster?
"Be not afraid," bellowed the large creature, larger than any whale that I had ever seen. "I can help you find your way to a better place. You are lost now. You cannot find your way back to where you came from."
How did he? she? it? know that I was lost?
"You doubt me," said the sea monster. "You think me malevolent."
"Yes," I said. "I am afraid."
I rarely admitted to being afraid so it surprised me that I would do so now.
I came from a family of bears who would never admit to fear. We were actors and adventurers and sea captains. I was descended from the famous Jean Bearymore, who performed on stage and in film.
The sea monster said that he would send someone to me who would ease my fears. He told me to look at the hills, but I didn't understand what that meant so I didn't move. The sea monster repeated his request. I looked away from the sea monster, and no huge wall of water hit me so I understood that I did not have to be suspicious of the sea monster.
Walking toward me was my first mate, the seasick sailor who had fallen out of the ship and was presumed drowned.
"Bearnacle! Come with me! You will love it here!" the first mate exclaimed. He did tend to speak in dramatic exclamations.
I wondered if I was dead and experiencing some sort of afterlife. After all, the seasick sailor could not have survived falling into the swirling sea.
Or could he?
(to be continued)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The island that time forgot

Synopsis of yesterday's episode: After escaping from the humans' prison and after fleeing their land in a boat that was not seaworthy, Bearnacle Bear endured yet another storm. He landed on an island and, there, was serenaded by a mermaid. Her song gave him hope that his crew survived the storm.

I walked on shore, soaking wet after the terrible storm, and went to seek shelter. I was relieved to be away from the humans and their prison so, even if I was on a tiny island far from home, I was happy.
I was, however, gripped by hunger. I found a tree and picked a few apples. After walking a little ways, I found a berry patch and picked blackberries and raspberries. It all tasted good, and I felt better.
Sitting near a cave and eating was good, but lonely. I missed my family and my friends and my crew. Images of having taken my little sister to the park to see the sculptures and to enjoy a delicious picnic filled my head. Now I was far away from everyone whom I love. But I had always known that being shipwrecked was a risk for a sailor, and I loved being a sailor.Although I was lonely, I was safe. Safe from the humans, who held me captive and who threatened to kill me when they first found me on their shore. They said that their shore was protected because pirates had attacked and had stolen from them and had killed their leaders. I said that I was shipwrecked and that it was an accident but they said that I was lying and that I was probably a terrorist because I looked like a bear. When I told them that I looked like a bear because I was a bear, they said that they would put me in prison and would then put me in a zoo, where I would spend the rest of my days, far from the sea and far from my home.
The humans were strange creatures.
The sirens were frightening creatures, maybe even scarier than the humans. It was because of the sirens that my big ship crashed and was lost. The poor bear who was to watch at night had not been warned that the sirens would lead him astray with their beautiful song. It was truly the song of doom.
I ate my berries and my apples and I wondered where my crew could be. I was sure that they lived. I wandered back to the shore. It was getting dark, and I had not found shelter. Would it rain? Would I be exposed to the elements?
The mermaid swam toward me and, as if she could read my mind, she answered my questions.
"Go to the other side of the island. You'll find everything you need there."
I walked to the other side of the island. Everything was green and aromatic there. I had washed up on the rocky side of the island. On this side of the island, there were birch trees, maple trees, ash trees, tulip trees, oaks, and sycamores. There were also white pine trees and cedars. The trees formed a canopy over my head. I then came upon orchards of apples and pears and peaches.
And then, I heard a voice. It was...
(to be continued)                                                        

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Mermaid's Song at the Rocky Island

Synopsis of yesterday's episode:  Bearnacle Bear had been imprisoned in the land of the humans. Although he became friends with some of the prisoners, being captive was very difficult and Bearnacle Bear's spirit nearly broke. With a little assistance from folks who wished to remain anonymous, Bearnacle Bear was able to escape the prison and the land of the humans. He set off in a small boat but nearly perished in yet another storm. He washed up on a small island and thought that he had gone mad.

The treacherous sea claims sailors and boats
I was on a small island that seemed uninhabited. I couldn't see much because it was raining and hailing so hard. 
But, at that moment, I looked out to sea and saw a female form. I was sure that she was a mermaid.
Are mermaids real or am I just going mad? 
The mermaid began to sing, and this was her song...

Crashing waves spray venom over the land
A siren's song leads a tall ship astray
Terrified sailors flee in tiny boats
The swirling sea always claims its victims.

Years later, a siren's song is sounded.
A lone sailor drawn by the deadly song
The swirling sea could engulf the whole ship
but the sailor steers into night time fears.

A lone sailor drawn by the siren's song,
to the beautiful melody of doom...
The sailor steers into his nighttime fears,
the stark blackness of a watery grave.

To the beautiful melody of doom,
sailors frantic to flee the sinking ship.
The stark blackness of a watery grave
could be their fate, but they are rendered blind.

Sailors frantic to flee the sinking ship
join the sailors of other times and ships.
Could it be their fate to be rendered blind,
trapped under the sea, unaware of time?

Joining sailors of other times and ships
these sailors were still staring at beauty.
Trapped under the sea, unaware of time,
they forgot their homes, families, and ship.

These sailors were still staring at beauty
but the lovely ones were an illusion.
Forgetting their homes, families, and ship,
they lived in twilight, their memory gone...

The song suddenly stopped. Was it the tale of my crew? Did they survive the storm? Where are they? Did the mermaid know?
I watched the mermaid, waiting for her... no, hoping for her to come to speak to me or to sing more of her song.
I walked on shore, soaking wet after the terrible storm, and went to seek shelter. I was relieved to be away from the humans and their prison so, even if I was on a tiny island far from home, I was happy.
I was, however, gripped by hunger. I found a tree and...

(to be continued tomorrow)