I got caught in the cold yesterday. I had wandered away from my cave when it was not so cold, and then the cold crept up to me and grabbed me before I could get back to my warm domicile. At first, I thought it would be fine. I felt confident that my fuzzy fur would keep me shielded from the angry wind and the vicious rain. My paws felt stable as I plunged them into the mud, step by step, heading back to my cave for warmth.
Then the ice came.
The rain, which was already quite painful in the way it made little stabbing jolts through my fur, turned hard and sharp and pointy. The tiny shards pierced my eyes and nose and back fur. Each step toward my cave became an event for me, something that needed all of my attention and energy. I tried to focus on those steps and ignore the harsh pointy, cold shards of water who refused to hold back their hostile assault.
It was hard to see. The trees became blurry and eventually one. The cold was numbing. I thought, for a brief moment so that I could ignore all the ice and the beaten down feeling, about what the other creatures of the forest were doing to protect themselves from this. The birds were probably flying above it. The squirrels were probably hiding in holes in trees. Who knows how many insects and tiny fuzzy creatures were hiding under the mud. The trees just seemed to endure.
I kept trudging.
Then I saw the deer across the river. He was not across the river, though. He was just out in the forest. At first, I figured he had tracked me down, found my cave, and had probably created some horrible trap to ruin the finale of my challenging ice journey. But when I got a better look at him, he looked just as cold and lost and scared as any creature would be. He did not see me. His antlers fought through the wind and cold and wall of ice and anger.
Maybe it was a different deer, but it smelled like him. It looked like him. He eventually made a sudden turn, found a burst of energy, and galloped away from me. It was strange to see him so disarmed. He was just as susceptible to the harsh elements as I was. He could be scared and cold and alone.
When I got back to my cave, I checked it for traps. One of the rocks I had collected days before looked moved, but beyond that, my cave was just as I had left it. I curled up into a fuzzy ball and let my fur slowly dry. I had dreams about the river.
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