During a rather exhausting yet fruitful dumpster excavation I discovered not one, but two, discarded loaves of stale bread that I had never come across before. Eager to taste my findings, I raced back to my cave with both loaves, still in their plastic sleeves, dangling from my mouth. Their stale ends bounced off one another like bells as I trotted through the forest. The crinkly sound their bouncing produced made me quite happy. I would have smiled if I were not so fearful to lose my bounty.
Once in my cave, I placed each loaf at separate sides of the flat rock surface I sleep on. I sat between the loaves and sniffed each one, trying to decide which to try first. The loaf to my left smelled of seeds and mold. The loaf to my right smelled of pumpkin and dumpster juice. Both were so enticing. Both were wonderful candidates for consumption.
I was torn.
Which loaf deserved to be eaten first?
What if the first loaf I tried was so delicious that no other loaf could compare? Perhaps the second loaf would be disappointing. What if neither were tasty? Or worse yet, what if both were equally enjoyable leaving me satisfied for a short time but yearning for either to have once again?
A torrent of dreadful thoughts filled my head. There could be no way of knowing how to proceed. The lack of conviction I felt made my heart sink.
These loaves. These two potentially wonderful (or disgusting) loaves of bread haunted the very nature of my being.
I needed to properly ponder my dilemma. A nap was in order.
I sprawled out on my back between the loaves and tried my best to drift off to sleep, but the loaves would not let me rest. I knew they were there, waiting. They were waiting for me to decide.
I rolled over on my left side. The exotic aroma of moisture and seeds from plants I had never encountered filled my nostrils. My mouth watered. I reached for the loaf but stopped paw inches from the loaf. I wanted to tear open its wrapping and clamp my maw around its crust.
No. Not yet. I was not ready.
I flipped to my right side. The other loaf’s intoxicating smell tormented me no less. The familiar scent of pumpkins and sickly sweet liquid found in all fine trash receptacles beckoned me. It took every ounce of strength not to abscond with the second loaf and eat it behind the acorn tree near my cave, away from the prying eyes (seeds?) of the first loaf.
These dueling breads played their cruel game for far too long. There was no rest to be had.
I had to make a choice.
I told the breads I was going out for some fresh air. I asked if either loaf needed anything.
Neither responded, but they seemed content.
I wandered out into the forest and came to a sunny clearing. The foliage swayed gently in the breeze. Other woodland creatures chirped and croaked and tweeted around me. The world seemed at peace. I wish I could have been part of that world in that moment.
A robin landed on the ground beside me. It bobbed its tiny head up and down, hunting and pecking for morsels of food. It would snap up something in its beak and immediately drop it if the findings were unsatisfactory. There was a utilitarian rhythm to robin’s method that made me envious. After several rejections, the robin found a rotten berry and swallowed it down. But the tiny bird was far from satisfied. It snapped up a blade of grass and gulped it down without reservation. Next it ate a dried up worm followed by the meat of a cracked acorn. The robin did not discriminate as harshly as I had believed. If there was something the bird found pleasing to its palette (do birds have tongues?), that morsel would be swiftly eaten.
I realized I was being foolish. As a bear, I consider most things a food source. Just because the loaves back at my cave were new to me, didn’t make them anything necessarily special. They were food, plain and simple.
My choice had been made: I would eat both loaves. Perhaps even at the same time.
I thanked the robin and headed back to my cave.
When I arrived, both loaves were gone, most likely spirited away by some invasive forest creature (probably a raccoon and/or six muskrats). I was silly to think they would be safe unattended. They were too delicious for this world.
I was breadless. I had let them slip through my paws. But perhaps, I didn’t deserve such wonderful bread.
I ate some sticks instead. They were good. Just not bread good.
I am a bear.
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