"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Once upon a time..a bear story

A big old Grizzly papa bear had lived in a cave on the side of the mountain for many years. He liked his home, because he could look out from the mouth of the cave to the valley below, and a stream ran down the side of the mountain, curgling between the rocks and aspen trees.

He's spent a lot of time there, out of the glaring summer heat, in the shade of the quaking aspen, drinking cold, snow-fed water, eating berries and roots from the green undergrowth. And every once in a while he'd catch a nice big rainbow trout.

He's sit motionless beside one of the deep blue pools of water near on of the small waterfalls, looking at the occasional silver flash of fish down deep. But in the evenings, if he sat still long enough, the fish would rise to the surface to eat flies and mosquitoes caught on the suface.

Then with a mighty swing of his large paws and long claws, he'd slap down, scooping a fish out, flinging it to the bank. There it would flip-flop back and forth, silver in the setting sun, until he got to it and pulled it apart with his fangs and claws for a tasty evening meal.

Finished, he'd amble over to the nearest large aspen, rise up on his hindquarters, and scratch his back, up and down on the rough bark. After a drink from the stream, he'd make his way up the mountain to his cave, and settle in for the night, on a soft bed of pine needles, for a peaceful night of sleep, as the brilliant stars came out in the thin, cold alpine air.

He liked the quiet, except for the noisy ravens, and ate as much as he could in the brief summers and autumns before the snow began to fall again. Though he didn't really hibernate, he'd curl up in the cave and let the snow seal him in for the long months, until spring came and the smell of female bears wafted up the mountainside, raising a primal urge in his senses and body.

Other male bears stayed out of his way, because they were smaller and didn't have the huge hump of muscles that powered his forelegs and claws. He knew most of the smaller bears by their scent. He'd  fathered many of them and tolerated their presence, as long as they didn't get too close.

But one spring, he smelled a new female....

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