Thursday, 16 April 2020

Bear in the House

Linked to Weekly Scribblings #15 and Writers' Pantry #16 (with apologies to Magaly for not finishing (barely finishing) this piece in good time for her excellent COVID-19 history prompt … I'm currently filling the hours by sewing 18 COVID masks for my circle of nearest and dearest - several of whom are taking turns, grocery shopping for Mike and I)


How is the world dreaming these days? My dreams are often a reflection of my state of mind. Lately, of course, COVID-19 is on my mind.

A couple of nights ago – after what seemed like hours of angst – I finally, dozed off. And then ...

I was in the backyard of the home where Michael and I had raised the kids ... with Mike, the kids and one of my sisters ... everyone as young as they were ... back then. Suddenly, as five or six people – I did not know – arrived carrying birthday presents for my sister … I noticed a medium-size black bear. From that moment on, I was terrified. Yet everyone else – family and strangers – seemed fine with it. I insisted that we move the party into the house away from the bear – but, even then, I didn't feel safe.

And I said to the strangers: “I think, you people brought that bear to my house.” Immediately, I felt embarrassed, as if I was disrespecting the bear – to say nothing of the guests. And my sister said: “Relax, it's not as if we've never had a bear in the house before.” She was right ... well, sort of right.

And I clarified her remark : “That was just one of Grandma's stories. A bear got into her house when she was a girl and carried off one of her brothers.” And then I noticed ... Michael wasn't there.

Oh-my-gawd, where is Michael. Petrified ... I started to search for him ... going through every room in the house, until I concluded that I would have to look for him outside.

“Oh-my-gawd,” I gasped aloud: “This is a nightmare” ... and then ... I woke up ... and, instantly felt a balm of relief wash over me ... much like Goldilocks, must have felt, I'm sure, waking in Baby Bear's bed to discover Papa Bear glowering down at her – before making her hasty escape from that fairy tale.

A strange dream ... in a strange time ... tinged with disturbing headlines, family history and lore and the ever-present wish that all-will-be-well, when we awaken from our nightmare.

Note: (This is not part of the prose - just posted for those who might be interested in a bit of P.E.I. history.) My Grandmother grew up at the turn of the 20th century on Prince Edward Island – and what a tough coming-of-age it was. Though, there never was an actual bear in her house, her stories of that time, were filled with – almost unimaginable tribulations – terrible diseases that ravaged communities (between barn dances and strawberry socials). She, herself, had her tonsils removed, while lying on her family's kitchen table, anesthetized with a few gulps of spirits that her parents kept at the back of the cupboard for 'emergencies'. When she was 10, her father was killed, before her eyes, when the blade of the axe he was using to chop wood, flew off and hit him. Interestingly, her family was near-neighbours of Lucy Maud Montgomery, writer of the Anne of Green Gables books ... idyllic stories of life on 'The Island' – back then – which, to hear my Grandmother tell it: had a bit of fairy tale pixie dust, added to the pages … because … in those days … for, almost all ordinary folk … life was very, very hard … almost all of the time. 

photo:  Vera May Campbell - circa 1915. 

©2020 Wendy Bourke. 


17 comments:

  1. I completely understand the fear. I think most of us (if not all of us) have been shaking at the possibility of "the bear" walking into our homes and taking away our loved ones. I also really like the note at the end, it left me wondering if the future will be filled of fables and fairy-tale-like stories of people being taking away by the monster virus.

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  2. I wondered what others were experiencing during sleep and now know my dreams are not that out of the ordinary. However long this continues, if ever it ends, at age 78 I think my dreams are going to reflect the coronavirus impact on our lives. Thanks for sharing, especially the story of your grandmother.

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  3. Wow, Wendy, what an amazing post. I especially love the story of your grandmother. Mine, too, lived through hard years.......As a girl, I loved the Anne stories, and enjoy the recent tv series, so artfully done. I agree there may have been some sprinkling of pixie dust, but from everything I have heard of P.E.I., the wonderfulness of the people is based in reality.

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    1. And her father's death, in front of her.....such tough times. Interesting your Campbell connection to Montgomery. Wow.

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  4. Thanks for that background on your grandmother. Really enjoyed reading it.

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  5. I think dreams often have to do with what's going on in our subconscious mind, this one evocatively portrays and speaks to me of the past and present. It's all right to experience anxiety nowadays .. we are going through a pandemic! xo

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  6. Dreams are amazing things, and this one was expertly narrated.

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  7. This took me back a many years to tales heard or read in my childhood where stories, sometimes frightening seemed like a piece of advice that growing up was not a piece of cake but would have its setbacks and failures. I really enjoyed the tale.

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  8. I'm the main person doing shopping for the family, and every time I go out I wonder if this is the trip where I will forget some small detail and the bear will follow me home.

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  9. Amazing, and harrowing, stories from your grandmother. The psychological fallout from her era perhaps mixing with events of present times to build that bear in your dream. Wonderful telling.

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  10. Loved hearing about your grandmother Wendy. What lives our fore fathers and mother's lived! I too can relate to the dream and the fear it holds. You are not alone my friend.

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  11. Fear can make bears our of sunlight... It is certainly unsettling our sleep can bring dreams that feel like they've been delivered by a tornado.

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  12. What a great read, both the dream and the note. As a lifelong lover of Anne-with-an-e, anything about P.E.I. seems magical to me! I lap it all up. And this was all sp beautifully told.

    Apparently many people are having weird, disturbing dreams at this time. Yes, it must be a result of the fear we're all living in. Some of us are panic-buying toilet paper etc., some are rejecting the whole scenario and attacking those who want them to keep physical distance. And the majority (I suppose) are quietly adhering to the advice given and trying to do the right thing, making the best of it and so forth – but the fear is still there really, as our dreams reveal.

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    1. For Lucy Maud fans - this from the L.M. Montgomery website:

      When she (L.M.M.) was nine, she began writing poetry and keeping a journal. She also spent time with her Uncle John and Aunt Annie Campbell (her mother's sister), and their family in Park Corner. There she spent many happy days, playing with her cousins and visiting her paternal grandfather … .

      That is the Campbell branch of my Grandmother's family. When my sister was visiting them in P.E.I. years ago, they told her that 'Green Gables' were on the Campbell house. Speaking of the (behind the scenes) ordeals of P.E.I. When she was just 21 months Lucy Maud's Mother died of tuberculosis - and her father left her with relatives and headed out west (I believe, never to return). My Grandmother's family, also, eventually, left the island because of the grinding poverty that fell to them during a particularly bad potato blight. I'd heard of the Campbell/Montgomery relationship before but, only just now, found written proof of it.

      Small world ~ smiles ~

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  13. It seems many are having unusual dreams in this time of uncertainty. When I was a child, I was riding my bike and I came face to face with a bear that had swam across the river. I rode my bike home very fast that day. I still vividly remember the encounter. Today, I find the bear to be a symbol of healing medicine.

    I am sure this dream was terrifying for you.

    Wishing you a peaceful night's sleep.

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  14. You might find this story interesting:
    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/13/style/why-weird-dreams-coronavirus.html?searchResultPosition=1

    In the meantime, may the bears keep their distance from your dreams, and may you (and all of us) bear up under the current pandemic pressures.

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  15. I have heard that a lot of people are having unusual dreams at this, the time of COVID! Strange dreams for strange times indeed.

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