Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Bear and the Earthquake

One night the Bear was sound asleep in his cave when there was a great earthquake. Trees fell, rocks crumbled, fissures opened in the earth and the River of Reality ran backwards. (That's not some sort of metaphor -- it's just what the Bear named the river that runs by the woodlands.)

When the Bear awakened, he saw a full moon washing the twinkling stars overhead.

Almost immediately, Mole popped up, a piece of turf on her head like a hat decorated by a single clover blossom. "Evening, Bear," Mole said. Mole was not the least disadvantaged by the night, although the full moon was bright enough for everyone else.

"Good evening Mole," the Bear replied. "I trust your tunnels did not collapse."

"Mole doesn't know," she answered, not sounding very concerned. "Can always dig them again. Quite fun, actually. Digging through the soil, finding worms and grubs to eat. You might try it. But what are you doing out here? Why did you leave home?"

"Leave home? Mole --"

"What's wrong with you, Bear?" It was Badger. "Running away from home? Abandoning us! Here you are, sneaking out in the dead of night. That's cold, Bear. Anyway, can Badger be in charge since you're running off?"

"The Bear is not running off!" he exclaimed, beginning to feel exasperated.

"You should be in bed in your own cave this time of night," Badger announced with a tone of triumph.

"The Bear was! He was fast asleep, and the next thing he knows, he's out here, and his cave is --" the Bear looked around -- "over there!"

"Bear is leaving, leaving, leaving, Bear, Bear!" called Nightingale from a nearby tree.

"Bear is not -- will everyone please just be quiet and let the Bear talk?" Then he growled, which he seldom did, at least at the woodland creatures. The only sound was the distant, monotonous chirp of frogs that had resumed. The Bear rose to his hind legs, making a very imposing sight in the moonlight. By now other woodland creatures had begun to arrive, attracted by the fuss.

"The Bear laid down in his cave and went to sleep, as always. Next thing he knows, he's here, and his cave is there. But he didn't move! Look -- here's his bed!"

"Bear is playing a trick on us," Fox said with amusement. Receiving a fierce look from the Bear, he hastily added, "or perhaps not."

"Who, who, who is this that darkeneth counsel without knowledge?" came an authoritative voice from above. Everyone looked up to see Owl, silhouetted against the full moon.

"You know he stages this," Fox whispered to Mole, who shrugged, because she could not see Owl, staging or not.

Thus said Owl. "Bear is here, Bear's cave is there, and Bear between them did not move. Bear cannot lie, as we all know."

"Bear cannot lie," recited the woodland creatures together, if a little raggedly.

"Therefore, it is not the Bear that moved, it was his cave that moved."

The woodland creatures erupted into argument, some of them shaking their paws at Owl. Owl did not care, secure in his tree, and his own wisdom. Mole, encouraged by Flea, who was never heard and seldom noticed, clambered up to the Bear's ear. The Bear seemed to listen. The Bear motioned with this forepaws for silence, and the woodland was once again given over to the frogs. Then the Bear spoke.

"Mole knows more about the earth than any of us," the Bear began. "She says that there was an earthquake. She says earthquakes shake things up, shift her tunnels, collapse others, and can even move a Bear's cave from here --" pointing to the ground beneath his feet -- "to there," he finished, gesturing dramatically to the cave's new location, several yards away. "The Bear did not move; It was his cave," he concluded in a tone that brooked no argument.

"So Bear will be moving back into his cave, er, over there," suggested Beaver, her tail slapping the ground softly, as was her habit when she was nervous.

"No," said the Bear flatly.

"Have you lost your mind?" exclaimed Badger, who was one of the few woodland creatures the Bear permitted to address him in that sort of tone, because she was a Badger, and the Bear knew she could not help it. "You have a perfectly good cave over there. Well, okay, maybe there are a few cracks and it will will require some cleanup, but it's still your home."

"No," the Bear repeated. "This is the Bear's bed. This is where the Bear laid his head down earlier tonight. That cave may move wherever it pleases, but a Bear knows his own home. He knows where he belongs. What sort of cave gets up and moves in the middle of the night while your asleep, anyway? What if decided to move to the other side of the River of Reality, or to the Unicorn Pastures? Would you expect the Bear to tag along, and leave his beloved woodlands and friends? Very suspicious that cave," the Bear concluded, and made a sound somewhere between a growl and a "hurumppph." that meant the discussion was over.

"Bear will get rained on," predicted Badger with relish.

"Perhaps," answered the Bear with a show of non-concern. "A little rain never killed a Bear."

"What, what, what about your things, things?" called Nightingale.

"The Bear's home is where he stands. That cave over there," he continued, gesturing in the moonlight as if toward the next county, "still holds many of the Bear's things. There is no reason to abandon it, even if it lets you down. But it isn't my home. My home is right here. Where it always was. It was my cave that moved."


  1. I did not move. I did not leave. But with the election of Jorge Bergoglio there was an earthquake and the Church moved - indeed, it moved far leftward. I have not left my home. Rather, that home left me.

  2. Oh, Bear, said Alice the albatross tugging a beach umbrella along side, here's a little roof to ward off the rain. My nest in the cliff nearby was terribly damaged but I'm rebuilding it. I too cannot leave the homeland of my heart and soul.

  3. Rain doesn't bother me either, but protection from predators does!

    Off to rebuild the dam.


  4. Duck and cover...oh, wait, that's for nuclear attacks.

    And to me this seems less like an earthquake and more like an intentional attack that obliterates the landscape, which remains despite it all but will need extensive rebuilding and regrowth when this is over. The sad thing is that none of the shepherds are coming to help the confused, lost critters. I guess they've either fled or been vaporized in the attack.

  5. If you want to hear about the shepherd the Bear encountered leading a large flock of sheep up from the southern edges of his territory, that tale is next.

    1. I would definitely like to hear about a (good) shepherd!

  6. The Woodlands is large, and it encompasses a mountain, or at least it is according to the Bear.

    The to the South is the Land of Many Hills with the hills going down into the sea. The crests of the hills break now and then above the gray waters as little islands until they too are all drowned.

    Each hill has it's own king, or prince, or gathering of elder animals. This is the land where Owl was born.

    It is a peculiar place, one that Owl will often fly back over during the night, but he will never rest here, for there is no tree high enough for him there. He listens, often weeps, and sometimes catches a mouse. The air too is red in beak and talon.

    The leaders of these hills are often bickering over whether or not the Land of Hills is one, but mostly they argue whether or not their hill is THE HILL. Generally it can be said that the leaders of these hills will, on occasion, or when they are reminded, shake their paws in the general direction of the Land to the north, though most have forgotten really why or what the fuss was about in the first place.

    There are always earthquakes in the Land of Many Hills, some will fall away, some will be cleaved in half, some will smash back into each other.

    There is an argument in this land as if it is a Land or Lands, if there is but one Hill or many Hills or if all is symbolically the Hill, or if all together is the Hill. Sometimes they reference the Norther Land as included or excluded in this debate.

    It is a very curious land. There are a bunch of small hills near the sea each run by a mouse of a slightly different colour. The mice roar as if they were lions and proclaim that their hill is the only Hill and that all other hills are but illusions. They especially like to get into disagreements with the other coloured mice.

    There is a plain between some hills, and there prairie dogs have gathered and each is trying to build their own hill, though some have gathered to work together in attempts to build a half remembered hill from their ancestral memories.

    There are not many trees in this land, and no towering pines. It is mostly open and often windswept. Good for grazing animals and sheep, who often wander from hill to hill in the dismay of the rulers. The grasses though are mostly parched and the hills rocky. The sheep are often thin.

  7. Owl, that brings to mind the story of one time when a shepherd from the far south brought an enormous flock of sheep to the woodlands in search of a large pasture that was green year round, and crystal fountains of lemonade. Now, the woodlands have many delights, but large pastures that are always green and fountains of lemonade are not among them. The Bear shall tell it tomorrow, or perhaps the next day.

    And what do you think of the new masthead? "A Curious Entertainment for Discriminating Catholic Ladies and Gentlemen." I think I like that better than "A Bearish Ephemeris of Catholic Culture." More descriptive.

    1. I think it is a good title. I would drop the "A", though.

    2. More importantly, I'd correct the spelling of "Entertainent"

  8. oh boy have you got me wrong....

    first, I would have hobbled you with the nearest big rock and then begun asking you questions gruffly.

    second, by 'nailing your paw' in the crap-sandwich pew with father jazzhands pontificating farncis-oralflatulance weekly, you are effectively moving with the cave.

    third, please, take a moment to review my comments from the earliest days of the Badger entering the woodland, and I think you'll see that I was calling all this stuff waaaaay back in the day, and generally being excoriated for it.

    now, I'm off to the badger's been a long 2+ weeks. God bless you Bear. And may He have mercy on us all as the fire rages ever more vehemently throughout His created world.

    1. The Bear does not recall excoriating Badger, but if he said anything that made you feel unwelcome he sincerely apologizes. You are always a most welcome voice here in the woodlands.


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