Things to do with a cardboard box and a towel …
One day the Bears were sitting on the pillows in the big bedroom when they all suddenly realized they were very bored.
In fact, there is really very little that ordinary stuffed bears have ever been able to do to greatly influence their modest environments. In this respect, the Bears have always been the most model citizens. C. Bear likes to watch “Murder She Wrote” and “Wonder Woman”, while Atlanta Bear likes to watch CNN News, and most of the other Bears like to watch anything that’s on. Bears are ordinarily quite good at keeping themselves mentally active. Between shows, the Bears take turns counting spots on the textured ceiling, even though they always have to start over again when they get to “two”. Bears don’t like that.
If you were a Bear, this might make you just a little cranky. It could also make you seem a little bit dull, which is exactly what Bears don’t like, for another thing. C. Bear, which is short for “Complainer Bear”, began fussing. “We wanna go somewhere! We wanna have some fun!”
And this was a Bear signal to set all the other Bears off, too. The ordinarily quiet bedroom started to sound somewhat like a kindergarten just before nap time. “Yeah, weeee wanna go too!”, piped A. Bear. “Me too!”, squeeked Out Bear.
After a while of this, the Bears settled down a bit, and practiced counting. “TWO”, cried T. Bear, spotting a shiny mica fleck on the textured ceiling. “TWO, TWO, TWO!” chimed the other Bears, and one of them counted a ‘ONE!” just for good measure. You can never be too sure of these things when you sit around counting spots all day.
And the People heard this, and they conferred between themselves. Perhaps the Bears could be taken for a junket somewhere, but not all of them, for there would not be enough room in the travel bag. And this was a terrible thing to consider, for the Bears always went everywhere together.
So this was the plan: take the senior Bears, and leave the newer Bears behind. Don’t tell anybody what was going on, and the left-behind Bears might not notice, or they would soon forget about it anyway, because Bears have a reputation for being so notoriously forgetful. And it worked, too, because A. Bear and O. Bear and Bo Bear and New Bear were too polite to let on if their feelings were hurt.
When C. Bear’s head was pushed down into the travel bag and the bag was zipped shut, he squinted and said loudly, “I can’t see!” But T. Bear, the smiling Bear, just sat there in the dark contentedly, for they were finally going for a ride.
In the airplane, if you listened carefully, you might have heard a tiny complaint from the overhead baggage compartment: “Let me OUT of here!” But none of the other passengers seemed to hear this, and soon enough, the two Bears were reunited with their cousins in Phoenix.
At first, it seemed like the same old gambit. Here they were, on the bedroom pillows, counting spots on the textured ceiling, with cousins Phoenix Bear and Sandy Bear. “I’m SICK of counting SPOTS!”, C. Bear complained. T. Bear counseled him he was setting a bad example for the Phoenix Bears, and bye and bye they hit upon an idea.
The first thing you know, all four Bears set up a hue and cry: “WE wanna go rafting!” You probably are beginning to think that these might be very ill-mannered bears indeed, but most of the time they are very proper bears, and you can’t really spoil a Bear, anyway.
So a cardboard box was set up just so, and a towel was laid down on top of an inflatable pool raft lest the Bears develop damp bottoms. All four bears were carried out and placed in the box, into the raft, and ever so gently they drifted off into the middle of the pool.
“WhEEE! This is SCARY!”, exclaimed all the Bears, and C. Bear jumped to the front of the raft to see if the water really was very, very deep. It was. He leaned way over and said, “Oh!” very distinctly, for a Bear. He sat back down in the cardboard box somewhat subdued, and a slight breeze scudded the raft around the pool for a while. T. Bear smiled bravely, and soon enough, it was time to go back inside out of harm’s way, to sit on the pillows in the bedroom.
Safely inside once more, T. Bear contemplated all of the brave things he and his cousins and C. Bear had done. It seemed like so much, it was hard to believe it had happened at all. C. Bear said these things were OK and that they would do them again one day, but T. Bear didn’t know about that. It seemed enough to sit on the pillow and smile, and just try to remember what it was that they had done that day. T. Bear felt very contented, and also very sleepy by then, and shortly you might have mistaken the Bears for so many stuffed animals sitting on a pillow.
When you are a bear, time goes by very slowly, and there is not always very much to fill that time. In one day in the life of a Bear, one learns to find joy in both what one can make up, and in everything which comes one’s way. A day is a day, and a life is a life, and a Bear is always a Bear.
© Alex Forbes, La Parola October 1994
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