Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Spring (the season) (07/23/09)
TITLE: Five Berries and Two Fish
By Allison Egley
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"Aw, mom, do I have to?" Ted growled.
Mom chuckled. "I think you'd want to stay in bed even if I let you sleep for a whole year. Now come on. I have new things to teach you."
Ted raised his head and expressed some interest. "New things? Like what?"
"Well, it's about time you learned to hunt for berries and catch fish on your own. After all, someday you'll meet a girl bear and have cubs of your own. It's never too early to start."
"Girls are icky," Ted replied.
"I think you dad used to think the same thing," Mom said, turning her head to look over her shoulder. "Right, honey?"
"What's that?" Dad asked sleepily. "Oh, yeah, yeah, Teddy. Listen to your mom. Whatever she says."
"I was telling him how you probably used to think that girl bears were 'icky' too."
Dad lumbered over to the rest of his family. "You're mom's right, Ted. I used to think girls were 'icky,' but then we went on a Cubbie Scout trip, and your mom got down the campers' food faster than any of the boys. I knew she was the bear for me."
"Aw Dad. Do you <i>have</i> to tell me mushy stories like that?"
"Mushy? That's not mushy. Now the food, <i>that</i> was mushy. But as far as stories go, I've got stories that are much mushier than that. Want to hear one?"
Ted held up his paw in protest. "No, Dad. No. Mom, let's get out of here before Dad starts talking about 'the good ol' days' again."
Mom protested. "But I like Dad's stories."
"Mom, didn't you say you have lots to teach me? Let's get going. The sooner you teach me, the more time I have to practice, right?"
"Okay. We'll go."
"Now if you pick berries from this plant, you know they are safe. Make sure to look at the leaves carefully, because sometimes they look like plants that have berries that aren't safe to eat. If you see berries on the ground, don't eat them! They look similar, and you don't know what plant they came from. And if you see a new plant with berries, don't pick them. Ask me first. And if I don't know, then don't eat the berries. Understand?"
"These plants are good, look at the leaves, leave berries on the ground alone, and don't touch new plants. Got it."
"Good job. Now let's head over to the river. We'll see if you can help me catch dinner tonight for Dad.
"What you've got to do is try to judge how deep the fish are. It can be hard, and it takes practice. You also have to figure out when to start grabbing for it, because every bear's reaction time is going to be a little bit different. Don't feel bad if you miss at first. Even I still miss on occasion.
"Here watch me, and then you can try." Mom leaned towards the water, balancing on three paws with the front right paw ready to grab a fish. The fish swam down stream.
Mom raised her paw, triumphant.
Ted stood at the side of the river, trying to balance like his mom. It took him awhile, but soon he could stand on three paws and still concentrate on the water below him. He waited until he saw a fish swim under him.
Ted toppled head over paw into the water, scaring all the fish away. He lumbered out grumpily. Mom had to hold back the laughter.
"Don't worry, Son. It happens to the best of us. Let's walk upstream a bit, where there might be a few more fish."
Summoning up his courage, Ted stood at the water's edge once again. Eying the fish, he thrust his paw into the water.
"It's okay. Let's try one more time. I know you can do it."
Ted pulled out his paw and stared at the flapping fish in shock. Then he started laughing. "He tickles, Mom!"
"Good job, Ted! Let's go home to show Dad."
Ted frolicked back to the cave, excited about his fine catch. Maybe getting up from hibernation wasn't so bad. Maybe, just maybe, next year he'd be the first one up. He'd have a fish ready before Mom and Dad even opened their eyes.
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