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The Story of the Seasons of Change

A Bear's Perspective


OCTOBER has slipped in on time as usual. For many of us, maybe too soon; for others, the starting of the several holidays that we will celebrate `til the new year. I knew of course in mid September it was on its way, as my Japanese maple in my back yard turned its brilliant orange and seemingly all at once, and the mums burst into a variable rainbow of colors of Autumn. While sitting in my back yard, looking at Mother Nature's colorful feast for the eyes, I was reminded of a story -- a story once told to me by a wise master of that group of bears known as the stuffies. His story has been handed down through his lineage, from the very first great leader of the bears (known as Tamin), chosen by the Great Mother of Earth herself.

The seasons of the year were carefully thought out and implemented by the Great Mother of Nature and Earth. At the beginning, a world of drab colorless earth slowly turned, warmed by the great sun briefly, frozen cold mostly thereafter. Mother Nature sat, in her great castle of perpetual winter, gazing out at the bleakness, her hand resting on a giant brown bear sitting beside her. "Tamin", she spoke, "wouldn't it be wonderful if we could change what we see, to make a picture that would move, to maybe live, but yet stay?"

"Yes, answered Tamin, interest growing in perhaps even more bears to talk to. "Could you make that, Great Mother? Could you change that, for me?"

"Oh Tamin, I feel that much more than just bears should be part of this. But, perhaps I could put you in charge, like a leader, both in thought and knowledge of all the creatures who shall become a part of this, to protect the earth. But first, we must have a plan, then take it to the Great Creator. He must rule whether it can be. I can only implement what he decrees, for he made Earth, you, and all the creatures of land and sea."

"I know, said Tamin, "you know how you paint sometimes, like the great painting above the mantle, mixing mud with burnt sticks and stuff? Well, sometimes you find what you call `color', and you add just a little. Why not mix a lot, and go out and throw it on the Earth? That would be change, wouldn't it? And -- we would have something new to look at!"

"Tamin", she replied, "the Great Creator bestowed great powers on me, but even I could not paint the world. Besides, it would fade in time, and I would be painting forever. We could spend no time together, and even still there would be no movement, no real change."

Tamin moved closer to the window, intently surveying the bleak land below. "Changes", he softly spoke, "like when you make my meal, you sometimes change it, even if it's really the same fare. What do you call that, Great Mother?"

"Tamin, you play with me! I gave you great knowledge. You know it is called Season."

"Yes", said Tamin, "I remember you told me one day. You heard me complain, muttering, `the same old meal, the same meal'. I'm sorry, Great Mother. I was disrespectful."

"All is forgiven, Tamin", she remarked. "We have a task at hand. Let's work together and create a gift for both of us."

Great Mother returned to sit in her huge throne chair as Tamin sat his huge haunches down beside her. He turned his head slightly to her, exclaiming, "Great Mother, suppose you paint many pictures, take them out and place them all over, move them about. Wouldn't that be change, like making a season?"

The Great Mother sat in silence, mulling about what Tamin had suggested, then replied.

"That can be done, Tamin, but we can't have too many pictures, or we again could never rest. Besides, the change must change by itself, but these, too, must be at timed intervals - to provide for rest, preparation, growth and enjoyment."

"I know", exclaimed Tamin, "let's do it by numbers, numbers that you taught me. We can make twelve pictures, for each month of the year, then divide by three, the amount in a family; father, mother and child. That makes 4, like the 4 points of the earth. Seasons of 4, or the 4 Seasons."

"Excellent Tamin, your great knowledge is working well! You have laid the foundation. Now, what about order, time, and what the pictures will look like?"

"Well", said Tamin, "that's hard; you mean like season No. 1, No 2 and so forth?"

"Yes, Tamin, something like that. But numbers have no life. I am not No. 1, nor are you No. 2. We have names, and titles, sounds to identify us. We need titles to remember the pictures, something that will anticipate what the picture will be, through a special word, a remembrance."

"How about names like the creatures of the castle, or things it. You call this castle Winter House. Is it because of the cold and grayness? And what about Autumn, the Cat. Why do you call her that?"

"Well, Tamin, the castle I call Winter, because it's our time of long sleep and rest. We don't need the sun or warmth, as we are in deep slumber. True, it does fit with the cold and grayness, but we have the stark white of the snow blanket that covers us. Yes, Winter is an excellent name. Now, for Autumn; yes, that sounds nice. I named her for her coat of many colors. The orange of burnt sienna, ash, yellow, black. A good name, like bedtime preparations before a long slumber. Very good, Tamin, Autumn will be our second name. Now, let us see; what else here can we use?"

"I know, I know, Great Mother!" Tamin, excited now, jumped up, pulling her to the window: "Look, the brook below, where I drink, and where you gather from it. You call it water, and you say we must have it or we will die. How about `water'. The season of `water'?"

"Very good, Tamin, but that's a spring, not just water. It comes from Earth. How about Spring?"

"Yes, yes!" Tamin gleefully said, as he hopped about. "What wonderful names for our pictures."

There he stopped, then walked over to Mother Nature and again sat by her side. "I'm sorry, Great Mother; again I disrespect you by taking favor of making the pictures, when it is you who are a great artist. Besides, we only have three names now."

"Tamin, your humbleness touches me, even though I bestowed that on you too. I chose you, the bear, to be a vassal of great knowledge, but also gave you humility, love, ability to teach, and yes, pride and strength. You are a artist, Tamin. From your mind and soul come great ideas, which we already are to use.

"Yes Tamin, we need one more name. You, Tamin shall name it. Let us look for something that is pleasurable to you. Something you like to do, or feel. What is your favorite thing or time?"

"You mean, something in this great house, Great Mother, something I like a lot?"

"Maybe", Mother Nature nodded, in gesture and word. "But something more, too. A time you feel free, comfortable; a favorite time."

Tamin again left her side, walking over to a great stone fireplace. He lowered his great body onto his bed of pine boughs and dried grass, resting his chin on his crossed paws. He stared at the cold gray ashes in the fire-pit. His eyes traveled upward to the mantle.

There, on the wall a large painting hung; created by the Great Mother many years ago. Cold blue from berries was its background, its center filled by the great Sol, or Sun as it is called, tinged with yellow, orange and red, giving only a glimmer of what its true fiery color is in mid year.

Yes, thought Tamin, my favorite time; warmth, green grass, clear water, cubs playing in the meadows. Sun. The Sun, of course!

"Mother, Mother!", he shouted as he jumped up. "We can call it the `Sun' season. You know, a time of the sun. Sunny, yes, the sunny season."

"Excellent, Tamin; your great knowledge makes me so proud of you. Surely you will make a great leader of the creatures who shall share in our paintings. Now then, let us see: we have Winter, Autumn, Spring and Sunny...."

"Hmmmm, she murmured, "`Sunny'? Bright, warm, yes, but it doesn't seem to quite fit, does it? Tamin, let's add this: 1, 2, 3 & 4, a group of 4 seasons. What can we change?

She turned, and she walked to the painting above the great hearth. "Hmmmm...", she mused, tapping her finger on her chin.

"Tamin, again, I seek your great knowledge. I need your help. You have picked your favorite time, now we must give it a great name. A time that shall live on and on, to repeat itself, like the others, forever."

Tamin arose, placing his great paws upon the mantle. He stared at this painting, his mind tumbling: Numbers about. 12, pictures divided by 4. Four points of the earth. The sum of four... Sum, the sum of it all. Summed? No; summer, Summer, the season of Summer.

He dropped down now, looking up at the Great Mother, his deep voice in control.

"Great Mother, we shall call it Summer, the sum of all seasons that make for this favorite time. I forsee great times, for all beings put forth by the Great Creator! We shall have all the seasons! You said, Winter was the time of rest, Autumn, a preparation, Spring a time of water, birth; an awakening.

"And then Summer; to enjoy all that has come. Here I see `order'. First, Autumn, a preparation of a great rest, so time to celebrate, prepare our wares and harvest. A time for a final share before Winter, our time of rest. Then Spring, our awakening; our time to bring forth our children; the grass to come forth, the brook to break free of its coating of ice, then, at last, Summer with its warmth of Great Sol. To roll in the meadows, to share of Spring's bountiful gifts. Our pictures are complete, Great Mother. It is time for you to lay them out for all to see."

"Yes, Tamin", she spoke, "we have created much today. We have our plan now, to carry to the Great Creator. Come, let us rest now! Our journey will be long and far. We must prepare to meet the Great Creator, and show him our plan. Only he can grant me those powers to forge our paintings. His permission must be sought, or they cannot be made. Goodnight, my wise friend. My love in my heart is filled with many colors for you."

Tamin retreated to his mounded pile of boughs and grass, his huge frame reclining once again, his chin once again resting on his great paws. As his eyes slowly closed for a long night of sleep, his mind whirled, with thoughts of pictures and colors with no color. The Great Mother gracefully ascended the grand staircase to her rooms above, she too pondering: what was to come?

Should the Great Creator grant her request, she knew it meant a winter of long days and nights, creating these four pictures of the Seasons. She stopped, and turned to look, down in the great room below, upon the huge bear in deep sleep. Her own mind questioned her: "Will I be able to do this great task? Am I worthy of this great honor, if the Great Creator so commands?"

Two dawns from that day, she knew she would know the answer. The blackness of night enveloped the great room, tomorrow to open new doors of light.


© La Parola and anonymous, November 1995

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