Tea Time with Ala, the Bear

Last week, I have re-watched Kubrick’s “Eyes Wide Shut” followed, a day after, by a documentary on the History of Earth and Life.

Being under the impression of Kubrik’s film while watching the documentary, I have realised, once more, that people have “eyes wide shut” not only in relationships like in the movie, but in many aspects of life, not to say in almost everything. We kinda live on auto-pilot. We see the world, but we don’t really see it. We hear things, but we don’t really hear them. We know things, but we don’t really know them. Take me, for example, I had lived decades knowing that the troposphere, the lower layer of the atmosphere, is only about 10 km thick (its thickness varies seasonally and geographically, though) but, actually, not truly knowing it, not in all the complexity of that knowledge. For me it was just a number, a piece of information I learned in school. Watching the documentary, something happened. That was the moment when I had realized that the layer of the atmosphere where we spend our life in, the one that contains apx 75-80 % of the mass of the entire atmosphere, the air that we breath, is just a narrow band and that the distance from the earth’s surface to the upper end of the troposphere equals the distance from my door to the restaurant where I use to drink my morning tea sometimes. And that is a small distance! I cross it in no time. Visualizing that, I had suddenly felt things differently. This thin circle of air and the planet it covers became more fragile to me and I understood even more than before how easy it is for us to break the balance of everything and put life on Earth at risk. Every one of our actions gained so much more weight in my new understanding of things. Every step we make had suddenly become of much greater importance.

Feeling a little overwhelmed by this new understanding of things, I felt the need to take some time to reflect on all these. I didn’t want to shut myself in my room, instead I wanted to go in a place with a different visual perspective on Earth. Up on a cloud seemed a good idea, as watching everything from a higher point of view was just what I needed for the kind of thoughts that troubled me. I asked Ala, a dear bear friend, to come join me, as I hadn’t seen her in a while and I missed her dearly. She is busy with her cubs, lately, and she doesn’t have too much time for anything else. But, lucky me, the little bears were asleep and, besides, that, Ala likes blueberry tea more than fresh blueberries, so she couldn’t say no to the invitation.

We climbed up in the sky on a rope ladder (made from rope that an Indian magician gave me once) and we got comfortable on some puffy clouds with a cup of warm tea to keep us warm as the atmosphere is colder up there. And we started talking about the things that concerned me, but the panorama was so spectacular from up there that we had soon stopped talking and just stood there, enjoying the view, the silence and the tea. Luckily, no plane crossed the sky to hassle us, but a few birds stopped by and asked for biscuits. Good thing they did, as my disturbing thoughts flew away with them, leaving me totally relaxed, enjoying my time with Ala. I came to the conclusion that there is no better way to reflect on the importance of things than from up on a cloud, with a new perspective over everything, with a cup of tea, with a bear friend near and having a such impressive view in front of our eyes! Magical! Only good things can come from spending a morning like that! You must try it! Or another different perspective at your choice.

PS: Do you know that we hear sounds because of the atmosphere? In empty space, humans would not be able to hear any sounds! I thought that there is silence in space as there are no motorcycles there, but no. It is because there is no air. Or water. Or any other medium.

Thank you for stopping by! Have a magical tea time this week and always!

The Moon Bear (and why is he called like that)

Moon Bear… What’s the story behind his name? I didn’t know it until, one night, I asked the Moon herself. And she had much more to say than Google.

A long long time ago, The Moon Bear was simply called “The Black Asian Bear”. He was entirely black, darker than ebony, darker than night. The white moon-shaped spot wasn’t on his chest at the time. But as dark as his fur was, as light and gentle was his spirit. But the spirit does not reveal itself to everyone. Only the exterior does. And this was the Black Asian Bear’s misfortune. His darker-than-night appearance frightened the China’s emperor of the time, who came to the belief that the bear was an evil spirit that came to their land to widespread doom and gloom. He got afraid for his kingdom and his people, for his crops, for himself and his family, for the Sun and the sky, for everything. And fear has the reputation to cloud one’s judgement. Which it did. The emperor decreed that any being that was entirely black was demon-sent and must be hunted down in order for their land to be saved from damnation. And so the hunting of the Asian Black Bears had started millenniums ago. Many were killed and some were imprisoned in cages to study them. One must know his enemy! The bears that had escaped had to live on the run. Not a good life, but the only one for them at that time. The Moon, who was very empathetic for as long as she knew herself, felt so sorry for the Black Bears that she took a vow to help them escape the dark fate that lay before them. She took them under her care and one night, while they were sleeping, she touched their chests with her magic beams. A white moon-shaped spot appeared on the bears’ chests, a symbol of light and wisdom and hope. The Moon thought that the hunting will stop now that the bears weren’t entirely black anymore. It didn’t. It actually made things worse as the emperor came to the belief that the Black Moon Bears, as he called them from that point on, were not only demon-sent but they also possessed magical powers. How else could those white moons appear on their chest over night? The Emperor summoned the alchemists of the time to find a way to extract that magic from the caged bears that would then be used by the doctors to heal the Chinese people. But the magic power was nowhere to be found. Instead, during their search, the alchemists had discovered the healing properties of the bears’ bile. And that was enough for the bears to be haunted and imprisoned from then on.

So, when the bears were black as night, they were hunted because they were considered evil spirits, after they were touched by the Moon and got their white spot on their chests, they were hunted and imprisoned for their “magic” and, after that, for their “magic” bile. They had no chance, no matter what. The Moon felt heartbroken and saw no light in the bears’ future. She didn’t know what else to do to save them, she felt stuck, she felt helpless. Then, one night, she had an epiphany: Not the bears had to be changed in order to turn their fate, but the men’s hearts and minds. Easier said than done. That wasn’t something that could be accomplished over night, nor over years, nor over centuries or millenniums. But she is an optimistic one and she has patience. Plenty. She had started her work thousands of full moons ago. Over time, she noticed some positive changes in people, not as many as one might wish, but the humans are on the right track, the Moon says. So … she keeps on working on her task. Until when? She can’t say. But she is a patient one. And she has time. The bears, unfortunately, don’t. But well… they always can choose to go to Ursidora, the invisible bear island and live happy and safe there until the Moon finishes her job.

From my talks with the Moon on the subject of bears, this painting was born. I’ve tried to capture the bear’s gentle, unbroken-by-his-fate spirit, the one that doesn’t reveal to everyone, the one that must be searched under his black as night appearance.

This piece is dedicated to all the Moon Bears and to all those who fight for them so they can have the beautiful, peaceful, happy life they deserve.

Thank you for stopping by!

The Lady With The Bird Feeder Hat

During the cold season things get harder for the wild birds, food is sparse, weather is cold. Many birds that enter the winter won’t see the spring sun again. Some will die of starvation, some of cold, some of broken heart. [And that is not a joke. It is said that some birds (like parrots, parakeets, cockatiel, to name a few) can die of broken heart.] Being aware of the hardships of winter for the wild life and knowing that we, humans, do many bad things to nature through our actions, I thought I might do something good, for a change. I have formed a new habit and started to feed the birds in my yard every winter. Over the years, they have multiplied so much that now it seems like all the birds in town are feeding in my garden. 🙂 They heard that there’s a lady somewhere in town who doesn’t have any other job than to fill and refill several bird-feeders a day. And birds talk. And they are not selfish. If one finds food, she tells the others, which tell the others and so on. It happened just like that in my case, too. The birds spread the word until my yard was bird-full and I had to buy more bird feeders and, of course, more food. Also, I had to diversify it, as more bird species came and some of them had a different diet. Therefore, besides seeds, I had to start feeding them fruits, and dry worms, and bacon, and what not! And if, God forbid, I forget to refill the bird-feeders, the army of birds send their messengers at my window to notify me about my unforgivable mistake and they chirp and flutter their wings at my window and, sometimes, they knock with their beaks in the glass until I finally understand what is going on and go out and fulfill my duty. At last!

There are voices telling me that by feeding the birds I interfere with nature and I mess up their habits. While that might be true, at some extent, it is also true that we harm nature and, implicitly the birds, in so many ways and we don’t think about that too much or at all. Polluting the planet, destroying their habitat by cutting the forests, imprisoning the birds by making them our pets and so on are overseen by so many, therefore, feeding my winged friends is the least I can do to counteract the negative impact on the bird populations due to man irresponsible actions. In an ideal world, I’d probably let the nature just be, but in this society, I feel like I had to do something, a little bit, to restore the frail balance of nature.

Besides feeding the birds in my yard, I, also, stuff my bag with bird food every time I go shopping or just for a walk in town, just in case I happen to meet some lost hungry birds that haven’t heard yet about my bird-heaven-yard and they are starving somewhere, in the cold winter.

Being like I am, I often think it would be extremely nice to have a bird-feeder winter hat, so I can easily feed the birds wherever I go, whenever I go and, with this dream-wish in my head, this painting came to life! And who knows, I might build myself the hat someday and wear it during the cold season. I know for sure that the birds would be absolutely delighted; and so would be the people in my city … but for entirely different reasons! 🙂

This is one of the images that inspired my piece: my army of sparrows that I see from my kitchen window while they are eating in my yard.