Artwork from the book - The Bear Stick by Stephen Pohlmann - Illustrated by Shira Pohlmann - Ourboox.com
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The Bear Stick

by Stephen Pohlmann

Artwork: Shira Pohlmann

Artwork from the book - The Bear Stick by Stephen Pohlmann - Illustrated by Shira Pohlmann - Ourboox.com

I was born in….oh, you don’t need to hear all that again. A stick’s a stick. I’m from a fir tree, so they say, but I’m actually not so sure of my parents.

 

I’m brown-skinned, not from the sun, and I’m about 5 feet long, after a chop here and a chop there.

 

I used to have twigs and things sticking out along me, but someone cut them off. A good friend of mine was a little bent (you know what I mean) – and he was thrown out! Discarded! I don’t know where he is now. They said he’s no good as a bear stick, and now he’s gone. I was very sad about that.

 

 

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Artwork from the book - The Bear Stick by Stephen Pohlmann - Illustrated by Shira Pohlmann - Ourboox.com

Eliana found me at the office in Montana. (Her Dad works for them). She chose me out of about a dozen bear sticks. I have to admit that we do all look alike; even the feathers, bells and little leather straps are almost identical. I think she chose me for my aura of perseverance, which proved to be very useful, considering the life I have had so far.

 

Eliana took me in her car for trips. Initially, I was very bored, just lying there, peeping out of the blanket, my bell silent, my feathers unruffled.

 

But one day, Eliana took me out, looped her hand through the strap and gripped me firmly. I was already excited. She’d be warned about bears. She needed me. For hours we walked, through forest into glade, cross hilltops and valleys.

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Artwork from the book - The Bear Stick by Stephen Pohlmann - Illustrated by Shira Pohlmann - Ourboox.com

Many hours we walked; me, she and that camera. I was scared a few times, especially when she would put me down, lean me against a tree (a tree!!) and click away. I don’t think the clicking made enough noise, but no bear appeared.

When evening came, and she was back in her room, snuggling softly in her bed, I was gloating. I had done my job: kept the bears away. I had protected my owner. As good as any guard dog.

 

We became friends, Eliana and I. I took her with me whenever a walk was in the offing. I mean, she needed protection. Sometimes, she would just sit on some spot with a view and fall asleep. Other times, she would walk and walk, become overcome by the Montana expanse, the air, that Big Sky, and would forget even herself. She loved meditating, a level between staring into space and sleeping. Bears were forgotten, even the danger thereof. I was indispensable.

 

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Artwork from the book - The Bear Stick by Stephen Pohlmann - Illustrated by Shira Pohlmann - Ourboox.com

One day, there was a strange occurrence. We went for a weekend with a friend of Eliana’s. (There’s stories that she’s the one who made me what I am today. Pinned the bell, strap and feather on me, cut off the little bits, made me all shiny). Well, this lady brought along her own bear stick. (And a dog – but he/she has nothing to do with this story). Could’ve been my twin.

 

We are very shy things, us bear sticks; said not a word to each other. Spent the whole day banging up and down along the mountain trails. In fact, we had little to do, ‘cos that dog (so he/she does have something to do in this story) kept yapping at every leaf that flickered. The bears kept well away.

 

Nothing strange yet – well, except for us looking so alike. That evening, we went back to this lady’s home. Eliana placed me nicely in the entrance hall – right next to my twin!

 

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Artwork from the book - The Bear Stick by Stephen Pohlmann - Illustrated by Shira Pohlmann - Ourboox.com

Late evening comes. It’s time to go. It’s dusk, and there’s little light in the entrance hall.

Despite my bell being slightly higher-sounding than the other’s, Eliana picked up my twin, and left me behind! With that lady. And her dog.

 

I had new friends, but they only walked once more with me. I don’t know why.

 

The next part of the story is 2nd hand. Eliana eventually went back home to Israel, where they actually don’t have any bears in the wild (perhaps too many bear sticks). But she did plan to take me with her. She had grown a liking for me (or my twin – but Eliana never knew).

 

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Artwork from the book - The Bear Stick by Stephen Pohlmann - Illustrated by Shira Pohlmann - Ourboox.com

The day came for her departure. It was an eventful day: packing the 2 big suitcases, the bags, last-minute pictures, hugs (everyone hugs in Montana), tears (they don’t usually have tears in Montana, but Eliana had broken many hearts). She made sure she did not forget anything.

 

But she did………Me.

 

Staring out of the airplane window at the expanse of Montana, she realized that I, her prize possession, was still lying at an angle in that lady’s car. All five feet of me, sheen now glistening with the sadness of being left alone.

 

But it wasn’t me – it was my twin! No one knew except us. And the emotions were no different.

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Artwork from the book - The Bear Stick by Stephen Pohlmann - Illustrated by Shira Pohlmann - Ourboox.com

Now to the tragedy. Eliana wanted me to be sent to Israel. But she also realised that this would be costly and impractical. In Montana, they think differently. No problem sending it: just need to shorten it a little. A gentle chop in the middle should do it.

 

Oh, how my twin must have suffered! How I suffered! It really is true what they about us.

 

The pain of it – and the shame. The knowledge never to be able to protect another from the bears. (There are very few little people in Montana).

 

End of Part I.

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Artwork from the book - The Bear Stick by Stephen Pohlmann - Illustrated by Shira Pohlmann - Ourboox.com

Time passes. It is many months later.

 

The scene changes. We now cut to Eliana’s Dad.

 

He’s a romantic. That means he believes in silly things. Like my salvation.

 

He is visiting the office Montana. He remembers the story of the bear stick, and meets again the lady who claims to have created me. He vows to bring one back to Eliana as a surprise. The lady gathers several bear sticks together and displays them to Eliana’s Dad – like a Miss Universe pageant. Such beauty, such erect elegance. Proud feathers, bear-frightening bells, and a strap that would never break under whatever stress.

 

 

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Artwork from the book - The Bear Stick by Stephen Pohlmann - Illustrated by Shira Pohlmann - Ourboox.com

Eliana’s Dad chose……me! I couldn’t believe it! There I was, bottom roughened from many a walk with Eliana, signs of sweat on the strap, and he chose me. I ding’d with delight.

 

The lady wrapped my ‘upper parts’ with bubble pack to protect me against the elements, and in advance of what would prove to be a very long journey.

 

First, we flew via Salt Lake City to Vancouver. On each of the small-vessel flights, Eliana’s Dad tried to take me with him into the cabin. But each time they refused; taking me away and placing into the hold. Thank God for the bubble pack. Both times, upon arrival, it was snowing heavily.

 

 

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Artwork from the book - The Bear Stick by Stephen Pohlmann - Illustrated by Shira Pohlmann - Ourboox.com

On the 2nd flight, they forgot me in the hold. But luckily, Eliana’s Dad, never one to overlook such things, warmly requested the guy to run back to the plane to retrieve me. He was not going to forget me that easily.

 

After a few days with Eliana’s Dad’s brother and his family, we all drove down to Seattle. He and I stayed overnight with some friends of his, as the flight to New York and then on to Israel, was early the next morning.

 

At 5.30, I heard the alarm. I was up already, so excited about the prospect of seeing Eliana again. Her Dad got up, washed (I was clean), had a cup of coffee. At 6.00, the airport limousine arrived. Everything was gathered together and bungled into the back of the vehicle.

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Artwork from the book - The Bear Stick by Stephen Pohlmann - Illustrated by Shira Pohlmann - Ourboox.com

There were the usual human hugs and tears (well, maybe just hugs – Eliana’s Dad was only there a few hours) and off they went. …….They went. Not us, but they. I was still standing by the front door when Eliana’s Dad’s flight took off. And that’s where I stayed for the next few months.

 

End of Part II – This gets exciting now.

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Artwork from the book - The Bear Stick by Stephen Pohlmann - Illustrated by Shira Pohlmann - Ourboox.com

Eliana’s Dad never forgave himself. Never gave up thinking of me. He planned and planned.

 

One day, he heard from friends in London (who happen to be related to the friends in Seattle) that the friends in Seattle were planning to come to London. A quick phone call, oozing charm, ensured that I would be on the move again, homeward bound.

 

But still there were hurdles to overcome.

 

The Seattle family were happy to be informed by the airline that I would have to be checked in with the rest of the baggage. I was definitely not happy about that. Do you know how much I weigh? Not more than half a kilo. I’m long and thin, and made of wood. And now I was to be surrounded by things 50 times my weight and bulk. How would I survive? Would I survive?

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Artwork from the book - The Bear Stick by Stephen Pohlmann - Illustrated by Shira Pohlmann - Ourboox.com

That was a long flight, Seattle to London. But I was OK. Some thoughtful worker had clipped me to some shelving up above the suitcases, trunks and other potential enemies. It was a long-haul flight. When we landed, I knew it was London. I smiled, happily awaiting my turn to be unloaded. I waited. We took off, and I was still safely attached to the shelving. Where was I going? What would happen to me next?

 

Fact was that I was lost. But airlines have this very special service which some people actually like. Seems that when you have heavy or awkward luggage, the thing to do is to ‘lose’ the stuff. The airline’s computers will usually locate the stuff and deliver it directly to you. No dragging the pieces along airport corridors, into cars or taxis, buses or trains. None of the sweating up staircases or getting them jammed in tight lifts.

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Artwork from the book - The Bear Stick by Stephen Pohlmann - Illustrated by Shira Pohlmann - Ourboox.com

And that’s what happened to me! This oh-so-nice-lady unattached me from my location in that plane’s hold. She was of a very sunny disposition, so I think I was somewhere in southern Europe. I was carefully wrapped in more plastic material and sent at least 2nd class back to London.

 

I was delivered to Eliana’s Dad’s friends in London about 2 days later.

 

2 weeks’ ago, Eliana’s Dad and Mum travelled to London. They met their friend for dinner. He had a shake in one hand, and me in the other. Outside an Indian restaurant in Kensington High Street, I was proudly displayed to Eliana’s Dad’s other friends. Eliana’s Dad was not going to forget me again.

 

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Artwork from the book - The Bear Stick by Stephen Pohlmann - Illustrated by Shira Pohlmann - Ourboox.com

Well, not really. Eliana’s Dad had more travelling to do; several stops before going home. So I was entrusted into Eliana’s Mum’s keep for the final leg of my journey. And it proved to be every bit as hazardous as previous ones.

 

Eliana’s Mum has nothing against me, although she did think it a little extravagant to bring me all this way. But she loves Eliana’s Dad, and also Eliana, and she was going to carry this task through.

 

Trouble is, she had so much luggage of her own, including a large bag on wheels, into which she stuffed all the goodies she and Eliana’s Dad had bought for Eliana and her sister in London; all the foods you can’t get easily at home, or which you buy in London because that’s the way it’s been ever since you moved.

 

Tradition.

 

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Artwork from the book - The Bear Stick by Stephen Pohlmann - Illustrated by Shira Pohlmann - Ourboox.com

Upon arrival, Eliana’s Mum started cursing at me (or so it seemed). She was having trouble carrying me. Poor thing had that big bag to pull, her handbag strangling her around the neck. She had to go this way to pick up the new microwave, and that way to pick up the big suitcase. She did not let go of me.

 

But somehow, she did let go of the large bag of goodies. Just long enough for someone to tiptoe over to it, curl their sneaky hand through the handles and drag it away.

 

I got all the blame. And I had done nothing wrong! A thief’s a thief – nothing I can do about that.

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Artwork from the book - The Bear Stick by Stephen Pohlmann - Illustrated by Shira Pohlmann - Ourboox.com

Well, here I am at last, leaning against the inside of a cupboard, snuggling next to tennis racquets and a bag of golfing stuff.

 

Wait a minute! Eliana doesn’t play golf! And she hasn’t touched a tennis racquet in years! I’m in the wrong place!

 

Help!

 

Eliana’s forgotten me again…

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