If I ever go on an adventure, I would choose a bear as my companion.
Nobody really knows when they will need to go on an adventure. It’s impossible to predict.
One minute you are doing your homework, the next you are thrashing through thick jungle searching for lost treasure.
One minute you are tidying your room, the next you find yourself on a perilous quest to capture the heart of your one true love.
One minute you’re in the bath playing with your toes, the next you’re rescuing someone very important to you from a terrible, ghastly fate.
For these reasons, it is good to put aside some time every now and again to think on adventure-related things – like the kind of companion you would want by your side.
Having a suitable companion in mind is a sensible start to adventure preparation.
I also have a canvas knapsack hidden under the stairs with adventure supplies just in case. It contains a woolly jumper, several plasters, two chocolate bars, a tin of beans (with a ring pull so I didn’t need to pack a tin opener), some sultanas in a bag, a length of string that measures 3127 millimetres, a plastic fork, a box of safety matches, a sharpened pencil and a piece of paper folded into a tight square. You might want to start packing your own too.
A bear is a good choice for an adventure because you can ride easily on their broad backs. You can grasp their fur in great fistfuls so that you don’t fall off and it won’t hurt them even a bit. It’s actually quite comfortable up there too and they hardly ever get tired, even when the days are long. And if there is one thing we know about adventures, it’s that they last a long time and always longer than you think they might.
Bears are strong too. If needed, they will quickly scoop you up with a single paw and place you out of harms way, behind a boulder perhaps or in the crook of a very tall tree. Once you are safe, they can get down to business. Getting down to business usually involves them standing up on their two hind legs, standing taller than any assailant, real or imagined, and roaring in a truly awesome way.
A single swipe from a bear can send a goblin bouncing back to wherever it came from; a quick flash of claws is enough to send any monster, however mean, crying for his mummy.
You don’t have to worry about eating when you’re with a bear either. They are experts at catching fish and also very good at shaking tasty berries (the non-poisonous kind) from bushes. If you like your fish cooked though, don’t expect a bear to wait for you to build a decent fire.
A bear is good in all weather and this makes them a most excellent companion. The weather is often very changeable on adventures and prone to extremes as well.
If it is hot in the day then it is easy, with a bear, to splash around in a river. Not only is this great fun, the splashing and spraying of water soon cools you both down.
If a storm rolls in and the skies turn black, you don’t need to worry when you have a bear. Thunder can crack louder than ears can hear and lightning can burn the sky brighter than eyes can see, yet still a bear knows what to do. They will sniff out a cave nearby to hide in until it blows over. And if there are no caves close by, then they will always insist on playing a very complicated game that you haven’t heard of, with lots of rules that need explaining many times over, until the storm has passed and you have been declared the winner.
When it is cold at night, the best thing to do is watch a bear’s breath rise up, steam-train white and frothy against the stars. If you look hard enough, you can see whatever you like within their breath. It is so beautiful in fact that it takes your mind off any chattering teeth or shivering limbs, and away to somewhere far away and fantastical.
It’s worth mentioning that there are many excellent places to sleep when you have a bear. Not sleeping is never a problem, which is good for adventurers who need their rest. When a bear lies on its side, you can lift up its belly, wiggle in underneath, and then drop the belly back down over you. This is officially the snuggest spot that anyone has ever known. There is also a little known but very fluffy and ever so soft patch of fur between their ears and shoulders that makes the most marvellous pillow.
It is not always good to be on an adventure and this is something you should probably know now. Adventures have their ups and their downs – they wouldn’t be true adventures otherwise. Sometimes, you can feel angry or sad for no real reason. It’s like your shadow has forced its way inside you when there isn’t really room for it.
This can happen when you think you have reached your one true love, but there is a deep ravine between you and them, and no bridge to cross it. It may happen when you find a vital clue to the whereabouts of the hidden treasure but it turns out to be a trick, played by an imp that you will never ever catch no matter how fast you run or how long you look. Sometimes it just happens because it can.
Bears can also have a hard time on an adventure. They get sore heads and there is nothing you can do. You will help scratch the spots they cannot reach, tell them funny stories that you’ve made up just for them, strategically position giant leaves to keep the sun from their eyes, even remove all the burrs from all the fur. Yet nothing helps a bear with a sore head.
Whatever you try, others have tried before and seen it fail. Honey – forget it! Medicine – not a chance! Potions procured from cackling witches in an unnecessarily dark and eerie part of the forest, navigated all alone, at great cost both financially and emotionally – a waste of time! Nothing helps a bear with a sore head. You just have to wait until it stops being sore.
The thing about the bad bits of an adventure is that they make the good bits even better. Like when you see something funny and it makes you laugh so, so much, even more than you thought it initially probably would. Like when you think you are hopelessly lost, going round and round in circles, but then all of a sudden you find out that you are exactly where you need to be. Like when an animal that shouldn’t be able to speak, suddenly starts speaking to you and, not only that, provides you with very sound advice indeed. Like when you are set a puzzle that you must solve and you figure out the solution using a part of your brain that you were saving for just that exact kind of puzzle at that exact kind of moment.
It is for these reasons that I would always choose an adventure and always choose a bear. Isn’t it about time you chose your companion?
Illustrations by Laura Morgans
Like this, try this short story about Pirates.