The Summer of the Naked Bear


Longfellow, Twain, a man named Kent;
(Is it the Super man who’s meant?);
WHAT naked bear?! What’s this ABOUT!?
You’ll have to read to find that out 🙂

During the hot, worst days of a long New York summer, when my friend Karen and I had run out of every last thing there was to do:

    We’d already sat outside one entire day pulling up clover stems and knotting them together to see how long a chain we could make (it stretched across my third-acre lot).

    We’d already spent an entire morning recording ourselves saying over and over to each other “What do you want to do?” “I don’t know, what do you want to do?”, and an entire afternoon listening back to this.

Karen’s dad, a teacher, tricked us into staying off each others’ nerves and out of his hair by means of paying us a penny a line to memorize poetry. (What a wise man!)

Thus, we memorized “Paul Revere’s Ride”. Then, we had gotten greedy and started on “Hiawatha”, but we never got farther than “Eewa-yea, my little Owlet!” (We kept falling apart giggling at the line “Hush! The Naked Bear will hear thee!”)

 

Naked Bear

I Don’t Think We Were Old Enough to Imagine THIS


 

But I used to memorize poems for fun anyhow. Born nerd, here.

My favorite uncle, Walter Kent, was a poet. He wrote lots and lots and lots of poems. Some of them I think are very good. Some of them not so much. A lot of Uncle Walt’s poems are corny. Some of the corny ones are still good.

If Uncle Walt had written only one poem, the one of his which is my favorite, he would be a great poet to me. He and his wife, my ever-so-nice Aunt Fern, loved each other very much. This is the short poem he wrote for Fern, the woman he would love forever:

      Blithe Spirit

      When I am gone, do you suppose
      I could piggyback upon a rose,

        Or maybe ride a sunbeam in,
        To dance about your lips and chin?
Sunlight on Woman's Face

Yes, Fern, It’s Me.

      Or when you smile into a stream
      Do you suppose that as you dream

        Of the many things we used to do,
        That I’ll be smilin’ back at you?

       
      Or when you hear the redbird sing,
      Will you see me nestled on his wing?

        Will I be in every smiling eye?
        Will I paint you sunsets in the sky?

       
      Yes, I’ll be riding every flower,
      Every bird and every hour,

        Awaiting in eternity
        For you to ride your dream to me.

Riding a Bird To You

Riding a Bird To You


 

My Poems

I liked to write poetry too. Here is the first poem I ever wrote, when I was 7. Brace yourself:

      Christmas Is a Time of Year

      Christmas is a time of year
      When people spread tidings and good cheer.

      We put up a tree in the living room,
      And Santa comes down the chimney: Boom!

       

      Santa Rappelling At Chimney Rock

      Silly Santa. Should Have Taken Up Rappelling.

      We open our presents and play with our toys,
      My, oh my! What a noise!

      We ride our sleds very fast,
      Then we go down the hill and past

      Houses and trees and other things,
      And all the church bells ring.

All the Church Bells Ring Wiith Clappers

ALL of Them? (“The Bells! The Bells!”)


 

Don’t you just love that “Boom”? And those generic “other things”?
My, oh my! That girl can write!

Now that you’ve gotten a taste, surely you want more. Here is this post’s last poem (Whew!), this one written when I was fourteen. You may notice the debt it owes to my friend Karen’s dad, and the long, hot summer of the Naked Bear.


      Song of Huckleberry

      By the shores of Mississippi,
      By the muddy river waters,
      Stood the raft of Huckleberry,
      Son of laughter, Huckleberry.

 

Huckleberrys Kon-Tiki Raft

Breathtakin’. Kain’t See Them Skeeters and Water Moccasins At All From Here


 

      Bright behind it rose the forest,
      Rose the tall and mighty oak trees,
      Rose the forts with boys upon them.

      Dark before it beat the waters,
      Beat the swirling, muddy waters,
      Rolling Mississippi waters.

 

Rolling Mississippi Waters

A Big Pat on the Back For No Anachronistic Post-Huck DooDads or JimCrackys in This Shot, By Golly!


 

      There the boy named Huckleberry,
      Nursed the crying baby bear cub,
      Rocked his small Kon-Tiki cradle, [raft]
      Bedded soft in moss and rushes,
      Safely bound with hemp-rope sinews,
      Stilled his fretful wail by saying,

      “Shush! The Mother Bear’ll hear ya!”

 

Bear Cub Fretful Wail Crying

“Huck! That Ain’t Proper English!”


 

      But the baby bear was hungry,
      And Mother Bear soon found her son;
      To summarize the gory details:
       
      Huckleberry didn’t run.

 

Mother Bear and Cub Son

“What’s For Dessert?”


 

While it’s no “Blithe Spirit”, I thought it was pretty cute. My friend Vicky’s parents thought it was terrific, and put it up on the bulletin board in their kitchen. That made me feel really good. Then, one of their guests spotted it and said to them “You must be proud, to have such a genius in the family.” Vicky’s folks made the mistake of sharing this with me.

My, oh my, indeed! With supreme confidence, therefore, I made my first literary submission, humbly choosing The Saturday Review. Now defunct, its writing was on a par with that of The New Yorker.

Why start small? After all, it was a work of genius.

Alas, my brilliant poem was, apparently, too lofty for even the high brows at the Review. I believe that’s exactly what they said on their rejection slip.

 

Snoopy Rejection

I’m With Snoopy


 

(Ssssssss…
That’s the sound of my head returning to normal size.)

 

Beetlejuice Shrunken Head Guy

Did I Overdo It? Does Anyone Here Have a Mirror?


 



ADDENDUM

Bear Vs. Human (Babies)–Who Would Win?

An interesting and ultimately scary fact: Human and bear babies can sound identical, which has led to some…mixups.

If you’re into pure cuteness, start about 3 minutes in on this Den Cam video to see intimate bonding between mom and cub.

What the Heck is a ‘Bullrush’ Anyhow?

Is it a cousin to a bum steer, like when Moses pulls the wool over Pharoah’s beautifully-kohled eyes? Is it something annual and testicularly-driven at Pamplona? Do YOU know the difference between a grass, a rush, and a reed? Well wonder no more!



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