And WHO backs up the immortal Doctor?
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And WHO backs up the immortal Doctor?
|C.Bear flies through time with his magic boots. Everybody knows our Leader Bear can fly. Most of the time he’s off in century 2500 or somewhere, rescuing Dr. Who and his friends from the aliens or the evil zombie people. Sometimes he likes to just kick back and watch humanity and the universe evolve. Or, as A.Bear has said, at least the universe is always going forward.”Call me Dr. WHO Bear”, C.Bear likes to say.But this time, C.Bear is in trouble. He has become stuck inside the BBC Paradox Machine, and it is time to reboot.
“Give me those old boots,” the Paradox Machine said. “and I will give you a brand-new pair.”
“No”, said C.Bear.
“Look, those old things are dated. You can’t wear those here. Why don’t you take them off and make yourself comfortable while I get you a nice new pair?”
“Nothin’ doin'”, said C.Bear a little anxiously.
“Then you will stay frozen forever in your smelly boots. The molecular chains of your stuffing will disassociate until finally there will be nothing left of you OR your old boots. Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!”
“No!“, Yelled Dr.WHO Bear. “HELLLLP!”
“Wake Up, C.Bear! You’re having another Bear-mare!”
And so perhaps it was all a just dream after all. Gone was the Paradox Machine, the boots, and century 2500. Here was The Bed, and all his friends T.Bear, A.Bear and all the other fellers.
“Yeah, that was some dream all right”, C.Bear said. The dream had been something about traveling through time. In the first place, he said to himself, where had all the time gone?
We had written a story about Mr. Popslider in 2006, and then we updated the Bear Chronicles in 2007. So, what happened to 2008?
We saw some squirrels and ducks in 2008, but Alex never did anything with those stories. And then, in October 2008, he wrote an entry about his workplace:
“And we have been thinking of the workplace and how much it has changed, in size and soul, since the company as Bob knew it … Thank heavens no top executives were harmed in all the outsourcing and staff reductions.”
What kind of Bear Story is THAT? So, “Goodness”, we fellers said to him: “When are you going to retire?”
Sure enough, there were more layoffs in 2009. So now, Alex is “retired” and so are we are all. Hey, we think it is just as well, and we notice he’s not complainin’ about sleeping in on a weekday morning once in a while.
We took a drive down to Phoenix recently. Junior and Little Bear got to be Driver Bears. Junior says, “back in the saddle again”. It was like the old days.
Big Guy and most of the Big Bears went too, the first of the “new volunteers” before the movers come and we all relocate to Phoenix. Before you know it, we will all be one big happy family again. No more of this Castro Valley Bears and Phoenix Bears stuff.
So we won’t have to call each other on the Bear Channel. But we’ll still all say “good night” to Bob every night, wherever he is. That’ll never change. And we always miss him – I’m not quite sure I’m saying this right – he’s sort of inside all of us all the time, so we don’t need to call. We call because we like to.
Getting back to the first question: exactly where had all those years gone? Getting past the “swirling mists of time, etc etc” teasers you see in comic-book and potboilers, there are gaps in the family album. You never forget your first car, so why are there no photos left? And what ever happened to the prints and negatives of that whole decade?
Here, the geologist shows us, is where the river deposited layer upon layer of silt on the bank, varying in wet years and in drought. At this point follow millennia of wind-blown depositions of dust, incredibly dense and yellowed layers: the river dried up or diverted course. Above this, hundreds of feet of clay and salts as some thriving ancient inland sea prospered and ebbed again. Above the salt pan, there rests a thin layer of iridium, or volcanic ash precipitate, perhaps, of an extinction event. Above that, stratified yards of the rich loam of life since humans first started roving the new continents …
So when you find that fossilized ammonite, or the lost photo of a specific event that meant something special, does it hit you like “our song” from forty years ago? Does a sudden unreasoning knot in your throat threaten to mist the eyes, and you are glad nobody is watching as you wonder, “Am I getting like THAT already?”
But the river is the song of life itself, as A.Bear taught us so very long ago: it has time and gravity on its side, and the river always wins. Weep not for the ammonite, a marker species with an incredibly long ride of some 335 million years. The ride is not measured in the length of the journey, but in what we learn on the way.
The first year the Mexican Poppies came in the Spring, there were only a few. Bob and Alex had never seen a poppy in Arizona before. It was a miracle! Flowers aren’t that tough, you know. Usually, it is hardly worth the effort for people to plant them. We just don’t see reds and yellows in the yard. So, Alex wouldn’t do the weed whacking until all of the poppies had died off in the summer. That’s what he said, anyway.
The next year, as if in Bob’s honor, there were more of them, and we sure enjoyed them. Alex took this picture of last year’s crop, the best ever, in March. We didn’t see so many this year. Maybe when we move, Alex will bring some of the geraniums. I sure like to see them reds.
C.Bear donned his magic boots again and floated back down the river of time. He saw firsthand, for himself, all those missing pieces: the gaps in the family album, the 1956 Buick, lost friends and family, and all the empty years. But he heard laughter drifting down the creek where the pine and cottonwood line the banks of polished round river rock, and he saw trout hunker deep by the rocks at the bottom of the clear pools. From the shore he watched great breakers roar in spewing white foam as they crashed down on the defiant rocks of the Pacific Ocean. In a meadow, he watched the summer breeze sculpt moving waves of rippling green grasses and tiny, brilliantly yellow little wild mustard flowers. In the mountains, he watched the setting sun’s shadow rise over the rim of towering golden snaggle-toothed ridges carved sharp by the incursions of mother time herself.
And then C.Bear thought he saw native peoples at the point where they realized that the coming of the Europeans changed everything forever. And he saw still images, frozen in time, of Pearl Harbor, and Hiroshima, and the Trail of Tears. He started to get worried. More images of the unthinkable past were assembling themselves as he watched.
“Oh NO!”, C.Bear said. What kind of horrible thing is this Tardis machine, and where is Dr. Who? Why is he not doing something about this? I must be dreaming again!”
“No, C.Bear old chum, you’re not dreaming this time!” It was his friend A.Bear, arriving, C.Bear hoped, to bail him out of this mess.
“You see, C.Bear, you’re not even using the BBC Tardis machine. You’ve learned to tap the full power of my Bear Channel!”
“A.Bear! Boy, am I ever glad to see you! Well, no wonder you know so much about history … so why are we seeing all these horrible things?”
“We can see anything we want to see, C.Bear. Didn’t you hear laughter and see the wild mustard flowers?”
“Well … yes.”
“It’s important to know about these things so they don’t happen again. But we don’t need to keep coming back to them again and again. There is so much good in the world … that’s why we Bears are here: to discover the good and share the laughter.”
“Oh, A.Bear, you are always so good at explaining these things … so tell me again, why is Dr. Who not stopping these bad things?”
“You can’t change the past, C.Bear. Even Dr. Who can’t do that. He can come back and look, like us, but mostly he is out in the future trying to make it a better place. He won’t come by here with us, because his Tardis is not the Bear Channel, and the Bear Channel doesn’t need his Tardis.”
“So you’re sayin’ …”
“Right, C.Bear. Teach the young Bears about the beautiful things in this world and help them make a better place in our future.”
“Any way we can get out of this place right now, A.Bear?”
“Sure, old friend. You look like you need a nap anyway. Let’s go ….”
Dr. Who and Rose are going to get into trouble again. We’ve seen this show, yet it doesn’t make any difference: that’s adventure; that’s entertainment. We sure like to watch that show, when we can remember to stay up that late. With a strong element of 1940’s retro, you can call it hokey and dated, but there’s also a sharply defined sense of right and wrong. Dr. Who may even have a mild case of megalomania – if you were immortal you might get that way from time to time too. Dr. Who always stands up for doing the right thing, and he’s willing to negotiate his way to a better solution without blowing things up. Wherever he and Rose go, there’s always deadly trouble with the bad guys.
But with our intrepid little Bear watching over their shoulders, the good guys always win in the end.
© Alex Forbes, April 10, 2009
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