Acrylic on Canvas – 2 separate 11×14 pieces, digitally joined
I painted these pieces as a birthday present for my lovely wife. Thanks for all the help dealing with thorns over the years…
Bear had spent a large part of the morning trying to reach a stash of his very favorite sweet berries. He’d spotted the outcropping about halfway up a steep embankment, amidst a dense patch of brambles, poison ivy, and poison oak plants. All of his bear-logic told him that he should ignore the berries and move on to easier fare. Unfortunately for him he was a stubborn guy and the promising allure of sweet berries was too much to resist.
At first he’d tried marching straight up the hill, over the brambles and ivy. He painfully realized that the brambles were too sharp and the poison too thick. He tried wiggling down under the brambles to the same conclusion. At one point, in frustration, he had lashed out at one of the larger bramble piles only to draw back an extremely thorn-pricked and swollen paw.
Bear grumbled to himself over his failed attempts and his sore throbbing foot. He searched the surroundings for another option, his hunger now increased by the past hour’s fruitless efforts. Looking up, he noticed a branch hanging out over the brambles. It seemed low enough that perhaps he could drop down onto the berries and have his feast.
“Sweet berries…” his stomach growled.
His brain, on the other hand, screamed, “That’s an awful small branch for my big bear butt.”
Climbing up into the tree was no problem for the experienced bear. He’d spent plenty of time scaling the high tree trunks of his forest home. He shimmied right up the side nearest the brambles to within reach of the branch he had spotted from below.
“Looks a lot smaller, and further from the ground too…” he thought to himself, as he wrapped one huge paw around the branch.
“Mmmm, sweet berries,” his stomach groaned in response.
His gut had a good point.
Perhaps he could dangle from the branch, since it was too small to climb out there?
Bear swung himself out onto the branch and no sooner did he touch it with his other paw when a grand CRACK, SNAP! and whooooosh sent him into the arms of gravity.
Bunny had been cautiously making her way through the undergrowth as she often did in the growing heat of midday. In the shadows she scouted for fresh green shoots of grass or low-growing springtime buds to nibble on, occasionally stopping to chat with other denizen’s of the wood. As a member of the prey animals of the forest it was important to stay abreast of current affairs. If Fox was relaxing by the creek, hunting crayfish, it meant that Bunny should move on to the thickets along the lakeside when seeking a drink of water. If the wolves were active out in the big fields, it would be unwise for Bunny to go looking for breakfast amongst the tall grass. The prey animals kept each other up to date as a first line of defense.
“Mmm, sweet berries” she thought to herself, “That’d be perfect about now.”
Bunny headed off to a secret stash of berries that she’d uncovered the day before. It was in the midst of a dense bramble thicket that made it largely inaccessible to all but the birds. But Bunny knew of a secret way in.
She came to the top of the slope above the berries and brambles and headed into a small opening at the base of one of the thickets. She had almost reached the berries when a loud cracking sound froze her in her tracks. From above, a shadow descended on Bunny, a great furry Bear-butt shadow and within moments she was stumbling, and running down the hill desperately trying to stay ahead of the roaring, struggling, tumbling Bear who had apparently fallen out of the sky. She couldn’t quite escape the melee and found herself launched through the air, smacking into a tree trunk that grew along the path where the ill-fated Bear had hatched his plan hours before. The same bear who now found himself quite ensnared by brambles and poison, lying crumpled upside down on the ground.
The pain and discomfort brought Bear back to his senses. He found himself staring, upside down, at a small white bunny a few feet away, shaking the thorns from her fur, also trying to make sense of what had just happened. Bear tried desperately to get to his feet, struggling to free the bramble and poison vines. The fall and subsequent roll had left him too sore to move though. He groaned out loud, a pitiful somber moan and collapsed again, laying his head back onto the dirt of the path.
Bunny, now understanding what she was seeing and what had happened turned to run. The big bear tossed about and moaned quite miserably behind her. She looked back briefly and locked eyes with the bear. His huge furry face was twisted in pain and frustration. She could almost make out tears pooling at the corners of his brown eyes, it sank her heart.
“Wait…” groaned Bear, “please, help me.”
Bunny turned to the bear, taking the whole scene in. He was clearly in pain and couldn’t move. She found herself oddly moved by the bear’s pleas for help. He sincerely seemed to need her help and she had a hard time turning her back on a chance to help someone in trouble.
“I promise I’ll never eat another rabbit as long as I live! Just help me with these thorns. Yow, ugh they hurt so bad. I can barely move,” pleaded Bear softly, still lying upside down looking at the little bunny. “I can keep you safe if you’ll just help me…”
Against her base fears, Bunny walked over to the Bear and began unraveling the nasty vines.
“You better take care of me, you big oaf.” This forest is a dangerous place for bunnies.
“I was trying to reach the berries,” Bear mumbled.
“I know bear bear, just relax,” said Bunny calmly as she began plucking thorns from one of his huge paws.
The world we live in is a strange place full of chance and luck. It’s the kind of world where humans, a notably undeserving species, can rise to ultimate power despite their self-destructive tendencies and habits. A world where planets swirl about the solar systems’ in a cosmic dance so grand that words fall short in describing its’ enormity. It is a place where the very tiniest change can instantly upset thousands of intricate, delicate balancing acts.
Despite the frequent troubles, it is also a fantastic world full of emotions and experiences. A place where two, berry loving animals, a wounded bear and a kind bunny can happen to crash into one another, forever changing both of their lives and sending them down a path together that no one could have imagined or predicted. A lifelong friendship was born there in the brambles that day.
Never forget to dream and to seek what it is you most desire. The journey there will surely take you where you’d least expect.
Original Fantasy & Whimsical Art by Bart Castle