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The Quail 1957 A Jennings

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Blogs by The Quail 1957 A Jennings

Grandfather Bear
11/29/2010 5:44:30 AM
Sometimes even the young can teach the old a life lesson or two. Such was the case of Billy Two Feathers and Grandfather Bear.

Grandfather Bear

Sometimes even the young can teach the old a life lesson or two. Such was the case of Billy Two Feathers and Grandfather Bear. This writer remembers the lesson well and in the quiet place inside his mind, when he remembers the event that took place near the raging rapids, spawned by the late spring thaw, he cannot help but smile and chuckle out loud.

My friendship with the seasoned medicine man grew quickly as we both were very much alike in numerous ways. Billy Two Feathers would often say, “Little White Wolf,” “You must always do as I say and never do as I do.” “I am much older and have many life experiences so sometimes I do things differently.” “You are young and it is important that you listen to the voice of your elders.”

Billy took great pleasure in tricking me and getting me to do things he wanted me to do. My mentor and life long friend knew that if he told me not to do something that I would do it just to show him that I only listened, when I chose too. His eyes would shine with a life of their own as he watched, hidden behind the great white pines in the forest and observed his stubborn young student, doing things in his own way.

The fish were starting their spring run up river. The raging rapids below the waterfalls on the mountain were teaming with the Coho Salmon as they made their way up the river to the spawning grounds below the falls. I remember the water was glowing like the colors of the rainbow, due to the early morning sunlight shining and reflecting off the salmon. Mother had ordered us to go down to the stream and harvest the salmon as she would can the meat and give it to those in the village that were too old or sick to harvest their own.

The bears also knew the salmon were running as well and they lined the far banks fishing out the salmon that hurried by them with their paws. The sound of their splashing as they swatted the fish out of the raging waters was very loud. The bears were expert fisherman as they have had many years to perfect their fishing techniques. I was neither able nor powerful enough to fish like them and armed with but a spear with a rope tied to it was only able to catch one or two an hour.

Billy watched on intently from the cover of the trees and laughed very loudly at me and my frustrations that were building. “Young one you must become like the bear.” “Work smarter and not harder or the people of the village will surely starve!” He yelled out.

The white wolf and the rest of the pack lay on the shore behind me watching me as if trying to figure out what this strange and awkward young boy was trying to accomplish besides getting very wet. I remember muttering out loud, you could also help catch some fish too old man! You hide behind the cover of the pines and take great pride in watching me fail.


The she wolf became agitated as she sensed that I was upset and she whimpered and moaned as if to complain to her mate over my ongoing frustrations and failure to accomplish the simple task of gathering food. I sat down on the shore beside them glaring in the direction of the trees where Billy Two feathers was hiding and still laughing very loudly at my failed attempts to harvest the fish. The white wolf stood up and came to me nuzzling my face with his cold nose as if consoling me and then growled quietly and looked in the direction of the pack as if issuing a silent command.

The wolf pack took on a posture that I as a child had seen numerous times before. They went into hunting mode very quickly and as they ran in the direction of the other shore where the bears were fishing, the alpha female glanced back in my direction and growled softly, as if telling me to stay put and not to follow them. Billy Two Feathers was obviously surprised; he scratched his head and watched on in total amazement as the pack singled out a young bear standing over a huge cache of salmon and with but little effort harassed the bear till it abandoned its stash and retreated into the forest.

Billy Two Feathers ran down to where the bear once stood and picked up two rather large salmon from the cache of fish and laughed loudly as he held them high in the air and yelled in my direction as I watched him from afar. “Work smarter not harder little white wolf!” He yelled. Right about this time out of the tree line came the young bears mother; she was not happy that her young was chased away by the wolves or that Billy was standing there holding her families fresh food source in his hands.

Billy did not notice her running up behind him as he was so delighted with himself and the lesson he thought he was teaching me, that he seemed to have become oblivious, unable to comprehend what was about to happen to him. “Run Billy! Run!” I yelled. He just stood there grinning unable to understand what I was trying to tell him. The wolves heard and felt the fear in my voice, knowing that I was in danger they quickly returned to protect me.


The white wolf and the rest of the pack hurled themselves between Billy Two Feathers and the angry mother bear, but not before she got off a swipe of her huge out stretched paw. The bear’s paw managed to land a glancing blow; hitting him squarely on his backside and sending him hurling through the air and into the frigid waters of the river. Billy was cussing up a storm as I pulled him out of the water and asked him if he was hurt bad.

His clothing protected him from a lot of the damage that he could have sustained. The claws of the bear ripped the backside of his pants off and barely scratched the surface of his butt. The wolves chased the huge mother bear away as she retreated quickly back into to the woods. If not for my brother and sister wolves he probably would not be here today.

Mother dressed his shallow wounds and as I looked at him across the dinner table, I smiled that little evil boyish ear to ear smile of mine and whisper to his utter dismay, Yes you were right honored elder, when you said, ” one should work smarter and not harder.” But maybe next time you should wait until the wolf pack chases away all the bears and it is saver to gather the cache of fish they left behind.

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More Blogs by The Quail 1957 A Jennings
• A Love Remembered - Monday, November 29, 2010
•  Grandfather Bear - Monday, November 29, 2010  
• Three Toes - Monday, November 29, 2010
• White Wolf Book Two - Sunday, November 28, 2010

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