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The Adventure Bear Show (Part 2 of 2)

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So far – Joey and Mikey Bear were both trying to win a contest on The Adventure Bear Show. To win they had to write an essay about something nice they had done for someone. Somehow, both cubs had ended up at the same place to do the same job.

Joey was stunned and disappointed. Now what was he supposed to do? He didn’t have another idea. Mikey’s mom must have known about the Ursalines too. Mikey grinned from the sofa.

Joey turned to Mrs. Ursaline and said that he didn’t realize that she already had help. He didn’t want to bother her. She said not to worry; there were plenty of things to do. She was sure she could keep them both busy. So Joey sat on the sofa next to Mikey. Mikey’s grin faded. He knew Joey was a good writer and would be able to do a better job explaining their work.

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Mrs. Ursaline was right. There was a lot of work to do. They needed to clean out the garden and cover the plants with mulch. There was a lot of raking to be done. All of the tools had to be cleaned and put away. The back part of the den needed to be raked out and covered with leaves and moss for the winter sleeping.

This was going to be a lot of work. Joey hadn’t counted on anything this hard and wondered if he could back out. Then he remembered that if he did, Mikey would get to go with Adventure Bear. This had to be the best job anyone would have. Grrr.

They each grabbed a rake and started to furiously clear the leaves, trying to outdo each other in the amount they raked. After a while, Mrs. Ursaline came out to see how they were doing. She was not impressed. She called the boys over and told them that it wasn’t a race. They needed to be more careful and make sure they got all of the leaves up. They should work as a team.

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Joey and Mikey looked at each other guiltily. She was right. They had done a terrible job. They told her they would go over it again. They divided the yard, and each cub concentrated on getting all of the leaves. When it was done, it looked great.

They decided that they should rake out the den next. That way they could use the best leaves for the bedding. While they were in the den, they started talking to each other again. They decided that it was stupid to fight over Adventure Bear. He probably already had a favorite cub in the area. They decided to be friends again.

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They found some nice, soft moss for the ground and covered it with the best leaves they could find. None of the icky, smelly ones that had already started to rot. Those ones would be good for the garden. They went outside to get started on the garden.

When they got outside, they discovered that it was already starting to get dark. They told Mrs. Ursaline that they would be back the next day to finish. Mrs. Ursaline told them that they were doing a wonderful job, and she looked forward to seeing them again.

At dinner, Joey excitedly told them about his afternoon with Mikey at Mrs. Ursaline’s. He was happiest that he and Mikey were friends again. His mother smiled. She and Mikey’s mom had hoped that would be the result. Joey went to bed early, tired from all the work.

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The next day, they decided that the best way to clean out the garden was to cut back the plants, rake around them, and cover everything with leaves. It was a lot of work, and their paws were sweaty by the time they were done.

That just left the tools. The job was worse than what they expected. They had to wipe everything down, but then they had to cover the tools with grease to protect them from the cold and damp. It was almost impossible to get the sticky stuff off their paws.

Finally it was time for the Adventure Bear dinner. Mikey and Joey sat next to each other. They talked about how great it was to shake Adventure Bear’s paw and how big and strong he was. They promised to still be friends if one of them won the trip.

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Dinner was great, salmon and berries, but the cubs were all impatient to find out who had won. It seemed like forever until a bear stood up and said it was time for Adventure Bear to announce the winner.

Adventure Bear said it was always hard to choose a cub for his adventure; this time it was so hard that he had chosen two winners for the first time ever. He had chosen these two cubs because they had performed their tasks together and had helped each other as well as the bear needing the help. Both essays really demonstrated the Adventure Bear spirit.

Joey and Mikey looked at each other. He had to be talking about them! When Adventure Bear announced their names, they ran to the stage together. They stood on either side of Adventure Bear while he told everyone that they would be hiking up a local hill and looking for grubs and berries.

All of them joined together in a giant “bear” hug.

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2

The Return of the Evil Tree Spirits

My love affair with the trees begins anew every spring. The buds arrive just in time to keep me from going crazy from the ice and snow (most years). All summer long, leaves sit on the ends of the tree branches, looking beautiful and giving shade. At the end of the summer, they are stunning in their different colors. Then the evil tree spirits arrive and turn them into nasty, spiteful dead leaves.

With some leaves, it starts while they are still on the trees. Those are the leaves that never turn a bright shade of yellow; they’re sickly yellow with brown spots. When the rain and high winds come, they attack the roads and cars. The roads get slippery. They hang onto the cars and need to be pulled off, one by one.

The others make it to the ground, still looking festive. If you rake them quickly, they even make attractive piles. They crunch under foot and remind us of cider and football. These leaves may be more evil than the others because they lull us into thinking that even on the ground, they are beautiful.

Then you try to rake them. You pull all of them into a pile, look around, and realize that you have missed a few. You rake those few and notice that another part of the lawn has leaves on it. You put those leaves out back for mulch or winter dens for the critters or whatever. You go in the house feeling satisfied at a job well done. Then look out the window and see more leaves. Some meticulous homeowners rake every day, generally during their first year of home ownership.

One year, you decide to wait until all the leaves are down before raking. This option does not work. They are never all down. Or by the time the rain takes down the last of them, you have lost all interest in going out into the cold to rake leaves. You are getting the snowblower ready. Besides, how much damage could they do if you leave them until spring? Hint: if you leave a lot of foliage on your grass over the winter, you may not need the mower in the spring. You may need sod.

We don’t have many neighbors here, but back when we lived in the city there was the problem of the mysterious appearance of leaves on the lawn after raking. A lot of leaves. More leaves than any of our trees could have possibly shed. We were left with unpleasant thoughts about our neighbors: they were dumping their leaves on us. In their defense, it was usually a case of raking on different days and the wind moving the leaves.

But I have heard stories of blower wars, with no one willing to actually rake up or mulch the leaves. More evil tree spirit mischief. I’m sure the spirits were laying the groundwork for the snow spirits that make snow appear on the walk after it has been shoveled.

The final indignity is the few leaves that remain on the tree, blowing in the wind all winter. They are reminders of the love affair gone sour. And I know they are laughing at me.