She did not want to come out of her cave
Big mama Bear had been in deep winter sleep and she was skinny and hungry, but she was not coming out.
The other bear mamas came out of dark caves with cubs rolling out around their big paws.
This Mama Bear had no surviving cubs and was not going out into sunlight and the smell of berries. She was staying right here in the dim light, groggy and tired. Safe. She could not bring herself to start all over again one more time.
She knew everything would bloom again but why should she have to? She was still alone. She would have to find food only for herself, she had no one to protect or to get protection from.
Her tummy was growling. Fish and berries, that would be nice. Maybe she could find some food really close to the opening of the cave..?
She rolled over and crawled to the opening which was just big enough for her to squeeze herself out of her underground retreat. She was still so tired. She kept lying in the opening with her enormous, beautiful head on her paws.
Something fluttered and a yellow spot blurred her vision. There, on her winter dry nose, a big yellow butterfly with coral and orange swirls covering its wings. Since she was so tired, she simply let it sit. It was opening and closing its wings slowly, as if breathing.
Mama Bear fell asleep and when she woke up the butterfly was gone. She wanted to see it from a distance, so she could see the patterns of its wing more clearly. She sat up and started looking around for the yellow spot.
Something yellow-orange glimmered between the old pine trees in the distance and she stumbled there on weak winter legs to find the butterfly. It turned out to be cloudberries and she threw herself on the ground and sucked them all right off the small branches. Sweet and sticky. It made her even more hungry. But she wasn’t ready to go hunting just yet.
Just when she decided to return to her cave, the pulsing light spot passed by again, now landing on one of the naked cloudberry sprigs. The strokes of orange looked almost golden from a distance. Mama Bear was impressed.
“You are so pretty.”
The butterfly fluttered a little bit quicker but did not speak. She just sat. Then she disappeared like a dancing ball of light.
Mama Bear was back in her damp cave. She couldn’t stop thinking about the deep, sunny orange colour of the Butterfly. It felt like eating honey, just watching the wings open and close. She decided to crawl back out in the fresh air for a while to try to catch a glimpse of it again.
Sunlight filtered through the branches of the pine trees surrounding the cave and she sat down to get used to the light. To her amazement, when her eyes caught the bright honey wings again, it came out of her cave!
The Butterfly came flying out of the cave with soft, tempered movements. She landed in a blueberry bush and immediately started talking.
“Let me tell you about my people.”
Mama Bear had no idea how to react to this craziness but she was really too tired to do anything else than to sit and to listen.
“First there is an egg.
Sometimes in groups, sometimes a single one, always protected by a leaf. This is the beginning of everything. All we need is within the egg, it is full of nutrients and well protected by a hard shell.
Then it is time for the caterpillar to hatch. This is the time for our growth. The plant serving as our home is also our source of food and we eat and eat and eat. And grow. Now we are protected by our camouflage. We can look like plants. Or just frightening enough to scare off the ones who want to eat us. We can even mimic more dangerous beings just to protect ourselves.
Now comes the time for the big change, the chrysalis. We attach ourselves to a plant in a safe place and then we go through the magic. We basically melt and then take on a completely new form. Complete mutation. Very intense. Painful.
When we finally emerge as adults, we first look awful. We are wet and crinkled and first need to pump up our wings. Then we need to dry. And THEN we are ready to fly and make friends in the woods. Ready to be beautiful.”
Mama Bear was fascinated by the Butterfly’s story and her soft, silky voice. Silence filled the opening before the cave.
“Why are you telling me this?”
She was sitting down, not looking directly at the sunny orange spot, but keeping it safely in the corner of her eye.
“I just figured I think we all need to come out of something. We come out of our eggs, then leave our caterpillar form and finally emerge from the chrysalis as a Winged One.
I can tell you want to stay in your cave. I just think there might be something amazing waiting for you too, outside of it.
Bear lowered her head and took in the words of this new friend.
She would have to think about it, but maybe,
Butterfly knew what she was talking about.