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Chapter 1 – Uncle Threadbear

Our Uncle Threadbear, formerly known as Fredbear, became threadbare when the small boy to whom he originally belonged dragged him by one arm or leg up and down the stairs two or three times a day, and rubbed away much of Fred's fur with his knuckles while having recurrent nightmares about a giant cat in the attic.
When the boy was very young, Fredbear spent most of his time in and under the bed, also under the bathtub, one evening actually IN the bath, and a week right after that with his ears clothespinned to a towel bar to dry him out. Of course nobody could hear Fredbear calling out to get him down, because his mouth was only stitches and he had no voice.



One Summer day when Fredbear had slept late in a wicker fishing creel where he liked to
take long, bear naps, he was accidentally taken fishing up the Legendary Oswegatchie River to Rainbow Falls … from which he returned in a bed of ferns interlaid with sweet smelling Brook Trout as large of himself.
Bears do love fish, even more than cats love fish, but of course, he never hoped to eat one ... what with his stitched mouth.
After the stow-away trip he had always wanted to go trout fishing again. He never did, but he was always able to re-enjoy the very exact smell of trout, pine, fern, and the tea-red Oswegatchie foaming over Rainbow Falls.

When the boy started middle school and became interested in football, hardball, basketball, and Boy Scouting, Fredbear was pitched into the arch-backed steamer trunk along with dead-ended hand-me-downs, antique clothing of recent ancestors, outrageous Christmas gift clothing and all sorts of rag tag stuff, all brought out only for dress-ups and house plays, but more regularly in Halloween season … mostly to dress the boys as hobos, and the girls as Victorian fairy queens.

For better or worse, Fredbear had grown used to the dark of the trunk during the first full year he spent in there.
For fun and adventure he imagined himself Fly Fishing on the Wind River in Wyoming … which was because of an article by Ted Trueblood in an Outdoor Life Magazine which had spent a year on the toilet tank top.
Fredbear enjoyed the Wind River expeditions very deeply, even though he had never been to the Wind River, and had in fact been fly fishing only that one trip up the Legendary Oswegatchie to Rainbow Falls.

Because of his tired and worn look, Fred Bear himself was once pulled out at Halloween to be the boy hobo's hobo bear. He'd had to wear a red bandana tied around his neck, and was forced to smoke a bubble pipe through a hole made with a pencil between his sewn lips. Nevertheless, he had a great time. Halloween was his all time favorite holiday, though he only ever saw just one Halloween.

After that one night of Trick or Treating, he was returned to the steamer trunk … along with the hobo pants , which had exactly fourteen forgotten corn candies in a back pocket.
Thanks to the bubble-pipe mouth penetration and the very slow action of his fibrous digestive system, he was able to eat corn candy steadily for three months……and to enjoy it even longer after that, because of his ability to savor flavors and events long after they had occurred… and even before they occurred, as well as events which might never occur.

Threadbear had, in fact, grown so comfortable and adjusted to living in the steamer trunk, that if he was outside of it for too long, he would become afraid that he might be shut out of the trunk away from his bed of dead-end hand-me-downs, rag-tag shirts and pants with non-matching knee patches, very old Easter hats, worn only once on Easter, Fedoras which had been worn to Church and Office before serving as fishing hats, outgrown scout uniforms, a suit so old and small that it seemed a small child might have been buried in it, sashes and loose sea shells, and three alphabet blocks: the letters W. S. and G. which could be arranged in many different ways, especially if you could turn the W upside down … or maybe it WAS a W, but none of the arrangements seemed to spell anything, unless it was in code.
At night when he had tired of writing with the limited letters, Fredbear lay back and dreamt the vault of stars, or enjoyed adventures up the Oswegatchie and out on the Wind River, viewing all in full color and smell-o-rama, but knowing very well that he was only PRETENDING to go fly fishing.
And he really, REALLY wanted to really go Fly Fishing. Dry Fly Fishing. What is a bear if not a fisher? And what finer and higher form of fishing could there be than Dry Fly Fishing? The fly didn't even get wet (unless of course a trout hauled it down) and, since the incident in the bath that left him hanging by his ears to dry out, he had a special fear of getting wet.
As much as he loved and admired trout, dead or alive, his interest was more in flying the fly and keeping it dry, than in catching the trout.

There was not much real chance of accidentally catching a trout and drowning a fly though, because it seemed he was never REALLY going to go trout fishing.

Then our Nowella showed up, telling how she, while traveling through Patagonia on her way back from her mistaken trip to the South Pole, had caught a Rainbow Trout the size of a seal that she rode seventeen or seventy miles up the coast.
After a few such stories, it began to seem to Uncle Threadbear (which is what Nowella called him and we do too) that most anything might be possible.

Chapter 2
Nowella's Travels

 

Our bear Nowella is an off-whitish, or  pale carmel- colored bear (depending on the season) whose mother was a Black Bear and her father  a White Man.

Mother Bear had been infatuated not so much with the man …… who smoked  too much bad tobacco and whose poor skin showed through the sparse hair on his back ….. as with the snowmobile rides, and the bright moving light of the television in his  mountain cabin.

   Mother Bear  had loved the cartoons: especially   Rocky the Flying Squirrel and Friends.

 Although Nowella's father had been a White MAN, according to Mother Bear he had been a white BEAR:  a roguish Polar Bear with  several gold teeth, who had been performing  with Missy Hoolihan's Tall Animal Review, wearing a red vest, and balancing  on a large ball while smoking cloves in a meerschaum pipe.  They were briefly married … so Mother Bear said.
     The father bear, she claimed, had left her abruptly, quit performing for Missy  Hoolihan's "Tall Animal Review," and  gone back home to the SOUTH POLE.
When Nowella was an adolescent full of questions and ripe to wander, she went off to the South Pole in search of her father.
     That journey alone took many bear years  during which Nowella had many  instructive adventures we can skip over for now, but which she would later tell to her boatload of small bears.  With embellishments.
When she arrived in Patigonia  -  only a hyphen away  from the South Pole, she learned from a Penguin that Polar Bears reside only around the NORTH Pole. 

It was more Bear Years, and many modes of travel again, before Nowella made it half way to Alaska, quartering back and forth across the spine of the continent and northward up the coast inquiring after a Polar Bear with  several gold teeth, who wore a red vest, and smoked cloves in a meerschaum pipe carved in the shape of a man's head. But she but got no response from any bear, squirrel, or hawk, except for skeptical sidewise looks.

     So, grown skeptical herself, Nowella drifted back to her native Bonaparte Cave State Forest to confront Mother Bear about the truth…..if in fact, Mother Bear was still alive after all these bear years. 
     
       The fact is that Mother Bear WAS alive and  had long thought that NOWELLA  was dead.
   It was a very emotional, if not a tearful reunion.  Bears do not cry tears, so much as they simply howl. We are not speaking here about roaring or growling, but savage howling so  horrible to witness that we can be content to  skip that scene…..only to say  that they reached a reconciliation of sorts during which Mother Bear finally broke down and told the truth;   that Nowella's father was a White Man.

But by  then, Nowella had seen enough of People that she had no desire to go off looking for her human father with the T.V. the snowmobile, and the bad tobacco.

 So then Nowella went off
searching for HERSELF. 

    Searching for herself, there was no place in particular on the Globe for her to look, so she simply wandered, and during the nineteen nineties, she found herself living  from shelter to shelter here in the Finger Lakes area, half way between North and South.

 

 

 

 

 

   That is where I encountered her.

Chapter 3
Nowella's New Clothes or
The Bear Who Came in From the Cold

I am sure that the first few times I encountered Nowella the Bear on my ski expeditions up in Ellis Hollow I looked right past her, or through, or over her, because she was a white bear in a white landscape, and was not at that time in the habit of wearing a bandana, colorful shoes, or any of her many hats.
Nowella was not originally a domestic bear…not a tame bear, a pet bear, or an kind of indoor bear, although her father had been a White Man.
And although I didn't at first notice the lurking, unclothed Nowella, I am sure that Deerdra my sensitive Dog did.

By late that Winter, I found myself occasionally imagining that I had glimpsed a small white bear, and by the time I was sure I had, Deerdra seemed to be quite unconcerned with Nowella plunging through the snow beside her, so I expect they had met often during Deerdra's constant quartering through the woods ahead of me.

And then was the day we found Nowella asleep in the hollow tree. It was the snores that called my attention to her; snoring very loudly for a bear so small.
But all I could actually see of her, was her bear feet.

Although the entire rest of a bear is covered all with hair, a Bear's feet are not, and this Bear's feet looked cold. They were sticking out of the tree almost.
Deerdra sniffed her feet, but moved on, and we let the snoring bear snooze.

The next time I returned, I brought along a small pair of sneakers which I left there just in the entry.
I looked back after we had skied into the field some, and I saw her little face appear.

The green bandana, which was the next item of clothing she adopted, wasn't my idea. It was just a bandana I must have lost out of my pocket when I took a glove out. Nowella found it while trailing us, and tied it around her own neck … which is a hard thing for a bear without what you could call fingers, or any thumbs at all. Thie lack of thumbs is why bears don't write except with alphabet blocks.
The first hat was Nowella's own innovation: the burdock hat, which is easy to make and stays on in the wind, but then it is very hard to get off and most unpleasant to sleep in, so she no longer wears it, much preferring the Oriel nest hat or a simple sock from the singles drawer.

As Nowella grew more civilized in her dress, her peregrinations brought her closer and closer to town, closer and closer to our Edgewood Place … and then she was in the garden and the bushes by the back porch steps ... until she was going in and out of the house with Deerdra as if they had been litter mates.

But wearing the clothes and just getting herself indoors was only the beginning of learning to be a House Bear.
First of all she would learn that houses are MUCH BIGGER on the inside than they are on the outside. It was a week before she discovered the third floor and met Uncle Threadbear, as she was soon calling him, although he was not an uncle exactly and his real name was Fredbear, as you know.

In those days several grandchildren and great grandchildren spent time visiting or living in the house; all of them found their way up to romp on the third floor where the ping pong table, the train set, the closets, and the trunks were, and some of them brought their Teddy Bears, which they sometimes abandoned there.
Soon enough there were eleven bears.

The bears would sit up in the trunk at night and listen while Nowella, the only one of them to have really traveled, would tell, for instance, how in her travels from pole to pole she had ridden an Ostrich to cross a big river but her Ostrich had been attacked by Alligators so she had to finish the crossing on an Alligator. And she would spin many other such yarns, some of them based on true stories, some not so much.

Then, quite surprising to all, and especially to Uncle Threadbear, after Nowella had repeated the one about riding the Rainbow Trout up the coast of Patagonia, Uncle Threadbear popped up and … in a voice at first tiny and indistinct, then somewhat louder but fuzzy, and finally quite audible and clear, though they all still had to lean in close to hear … he told a tale of his fishing on the Wind River in Wyoming, and illustrated it with a continuous pantomime of the fly casting, during which he sometimes positively danced, like a May Fly over a Spring riffle.
After that performance, Uncle Threadbear became a story teller to the bears nearly as popular as Nowella, though it was always stories about fishing, and the small bears all had to lean close to hear.

Soon, there began a movement among
the bears, to actually go fishing.


.

from
Metaphysical Times
Volume VIII Number 1
Winter (February) 2013



 

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