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Word From The North

Fruit, Not Blood

A Van Allen Bear Original.



By Van Allen Bear

There is a type of man that sits on his stool,

So sure, so mean–in a world so cruel,

The warmth and love of the sun outside,

This type of man, in shade he hides.

This type of man makes short his love,

Makes sharp his blade, pulls tight his gloves,

Armor, boots, and helmet bright,

This type of man lays awake all night.

This type of man stalks in the wood, he wish a war, he wish a flood,

All the ‘didn’t’s and all the ‘could’s–he’s drawn so thin–he wants blood.

This type of man draws in the sand and thinks the world apart,

So silly he seems, his armor gleams, so hidden is his heart.

His halls are cold, no stories told,

No kids a-cooing, he sends them shooing– yet the youngins do grow old.

Upon his desk, letters pile up as dust,

The webs in the corners, the ashy embers; they add to the musk.

This type of man, deep down inside, wishes for a change of times,

This foolish man, with idle hands, had been ignoring all the signs.

The shutters flap upon the wind, tappings upon his doors,

The chairs all squeak, the tables lean, the fire suddenly roars!

The man sits up on his stool, the noises rocked him with a fright,

This life of his, always hid, surely isn’t right.

Make a fix, clean a corner, call the children in,

Be there a hall, a home, a full parade of thy lov’d kin!

This type of man sees his shortcomings, eats with them to close the day,

Before his rest, in his tidied nest, his child comes to say:

“Father whom is troubled so, we wish you better, don’t you know?”

Before him there, in inn’cence bare, that boy of his will grow.

Before he goes this man should know, there looking at his kin,

While his mind’s been caught on pain and rot, he’s shown where to begin.

That night he strolled about his lair, a candlestick in hand,

He thought all night and fought his spite:

“All this time and all this land–

Tear off your blinders you silly man!

Wicked are the ways of me,

To drivel and desire, for pain and death to gain in coin,

For profits oversea!

How I shall make it right, before my soul departs this world in flight,

I shall love my babe, my daughters small, steward my sons towards good and right.”

Achy floors and rat’ling shutters, the wind blows hard that night,

Pacing round those halls of his, the wind blew out his light.

When morning comes to the world around, this type of man kneels ‘pon the ground,

“O spare me Lord, one day more, my trivial thoughts were drowned, 

By greed and wrath–I confess at last–my mortal flesh was owned.

This day today I’ll see it through, I’ll love my kin, and I’ll bow to you,

I shake these trees and rid the snakes, I’ll nevermore fraternize in sin,

While my mind’s been caught on pain and rot, I’ve been shown where to begin.”

This type of man gets off his stool, forgives his pains, drawers up the cruel,

Puts ‘way the scotch, tucks ‘way the stool, shakes off his dust, no-more a ghoul.

He finds his wife kneading dough–her fingers cold, her tied-up hair be frayed,

His touch to her had been missed, she thought their love decayed.

The postman comes, with letters–three; in them words from oversea,

Reports and charts, the postman boasts, “numbers high of coins and ghosts!”

“Make kindling of such news as these, these empty words from overseas.

Feed the hounds, clear the halls, have music sound and no more squalls.

Fetch the long gun for me son, it’s time this table’s feast be won.

O’ wife my love, send word to family, a feast tonight for all hereof.

Postman follow me in kind, it’s time for an upland game,

This man I was, and the one stands ‘ere, from here on won’t be same.”

This type of man returns to his estate,

A bird in hand, for each man, fowl for each plate,

Lanterns alight, a dancing night, no more shall he desecrate.

This type of man lays down his hand, his final years roll by,

His sons grown old, daughters too, left to a proud widow’d wife.

Family comes from all around, this man be lowered in sacred ground,

For were it not of a fright, that windy night; his child’s words profound,

He’d be laying dead in a pool of red, or overseas or drowned.

Remembered for his tut’lage and care, nay for his armored suit,

This type of man, without despair, known by his fruit.

Children Stories

In Search of Sacha: Review

Book review by Van Allen Bear on the book In Search of Sacha, by Manuel Guzman from Lolo’s art.



Recently I had read a book by a member of the community that was quite an enjoyable read. Many of you may know the book already, but for those like me who have read it for the first time: here is my first impressions and review.

For what I have come to understand, the author made a point to write the story in such a way that the reader is encouraged to take one, two, or three times to read through and each time draw new connections between the characters and their quest. If you haven’t made it through the book already then I won’t reveal too much information about the story as to do you a disservice. The summary is as follows:

“A fully painted 80 page fantasy storybook about loving parents searching for their son in a dark forest. They are Elysia and Amar, guardians of the mountains and of Sacha. They contain a pure light within them which they have passed on to their son and can only hope it will protect him during his coming of age trials. In Search of Sacha is written and designed for all ages. Young adults as well as children and parents will find something to love from this ethereal fairy tale.” – Manuel Guzman


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Word From The North

Beetle in the Oakwood



Little Bear Woodshop and I had reached an agreement, of sorts, where I send him proper currency accompanied with materials and he would use his facility to craft a pair of knives. What materials, you ask? I asked myself the same thing… If there was a knife you were going to carry with you all the time, what materials would you use? Naturally I am inclined to choose wood blanks, so I decided to take a saw to a few types of wood that were available nearby, which ended up being: mesquite, Spanish oak, cedar, and a local contact provided me with a few planks of Texan Pecan.

A fine blank, no less

So, this was going to be quite easy, I merely send the wood to the craftsman and bark some orders. Once the materials are in his hands, then he’s charged with making my cutlery. However, once showing pictures of my loot to the woodworker, I was informed that the bark had to be removed prior to both shipping and crafting. Naturally, I realized that I only had a few hours to de-bark the wood with a rotary table saw on hand. I set to it with my glasses on and table saw whirring in the garage.

The wood had been dry for quite a while, and I ran it sideways to grind off all the bark, strip by strip by strip. Curious, were these markings on the exposed hardwood beneath… what were they? Ovular and they seemed to be made of softer wood, they didn’t look to me as being natural. I began cutting the wood across the diameter of the trunk when out popped a beetle the size of my thumbnail. I was fooled, thinking this wood was in tip-top shape!

“Good Heavens, what on earth is this beetle doing in my oakwood?! What corruption is this?”

surprised man, sawing wood, circa 2020

Confused and surprised, I made more and more cuts for coasters. Lo’ and behold, there was another beetle that felt the sting of my rotary saw, and unfortunately had to take a very very long nap in the trashcan. The rest of the wood was untouched, for there were different cuts from different trees. Only some interesting ant-made markings marred the surfaces or the interiors of the other hardwoods.

As they were shipped out to and received by the man whom fabricates knives and things made from wood for a living, they were met with acclaim. The mesquite shall be turned into ladles, Spanish oak into spatulas, cedar into spoons, and a few planks of Texan Pecan shaped into Idaho State cutting boards. There are things to learn from this endeavor: never judge a cut of wood by it’s bark. It’s not that you shouldn’t trust things unseen, but be prepared to slice up a couple beetles or so through your endeavors for there very well could be all sorts of insects lurking just beneath the surface.

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Children Stories

The Heedless Woodchopper

For the Children’s Hour



By Van Allen Bear

The wood beyond the eastern peaks shimmers yellow in the autumn months. Lakes stretch long from the top of the valley to the south, and there are tall pines that sway in the warm breeze as their needles slowly drip one by one onto the soft forest floor beneath. The lakes have a healthy stock of trout with rainbow shimmering scales as they breech and munch on the lazy flies skittering on the surface. The skies are watched by eagles, always vigilant and steady as they soar from the valleys to their perches. Faint songs are sung from high boughs of the pines when the wind blows through. The wood harbors countless deer, elk, wolves, rabbits, squirrels, owls, and mice.

There is an interesting story about something that had happened to these woods, and had something to do with a woodchopper, however he wasn’t always called that.

You see, the wood harbors a family, and the head of that family is a man whom one could consider a woodchopper. Though he tries, he doesn’t quite pay enough attention to truly be called a woodsman, nor a chopper. He does fell trees but the man works along at a less-than-reasonable pace. The woods are rife with trees ready for chopping, but his pace surely is slow.

In the height of the spring, the woodchopper goes out from his home quite some distance to find the standing deadwood trees and clear out thickets of the wild brush. One year, on a particularly warm spring, the woodchopper headed out far from the house to a thicket that had suffered a landslide two seasons ago. The land had slid from a ways up the mountain and came to a halt in a rather flat area, off the beaten path. The trees were dead and ready for harvest, but they lay strewn about in new terrain, all bent and bundled together. This was going to be quick work, and the woodchopper made his way down to the fresh ground with only an axe and a bent claw tool. The woodchopper went to work, putting his hat on a protruding low branch, and dug his claw tool in a stump nearby his first tree.

“This is going to be an easy batch,” he thought, “all that I need to do is make a few cuts on these that are already dead and this should be the easiest bundle I’ll ever make.”

Careless, he wants the most firewood with the least amount of effort, so he finds a bigger tree than he has ever chopped before laying there in the pile of warped trunks and branches. Heedless, he goes atop the pile and began hammering away at the trunk. The woodchopper gets part of the way through and his axe loses the edge as it goes dull on the massive trunk of the dead tree. Realizing that he has forgotten his sharpening stones, he has to continue making due with an ever-dulling blade. “bang, bang, bang, bang, skrrraak!” he reeled back and the head of his axe was tumbling around inside the big pile of bundled lumber.

“You’ve got to be kidding me! I brought my worst axe and didn’t even notice!” he shouted to the sky.

Under further inspection of the handle, the woodchopper said, “no wonder it just broke, this is the most brittle axe I’ve got in the shed, I could have sworn that I brought the right one this morning, I must’ve not paid attention…” he said to himself, “what am I suppose to do now? Ah, guess I’ll go home and come back tomorrow…”

On his way off the pile of logs, he looked around to find his claw tool to see if he could drag a smaller log up the hill and have himself at least something to go home with. Around and around he looked and couldn’t find the claw tool, nowhere was it to be found. He reached for his hat on the bough and realized the ribbon had ripped on the inside brim, as it was rubbing against the sharp bark of the pine tree bough that it was resting on. He let out a low grumble and growl, having lost both his axe and claw tool and damaged his hat that day.

As he was climbing up the bank of the new earth towards the beaten path, he slipped with his right foot and slid gently back to the base of the slope. Tired and demoralized, he sat down on a bare log at the bottom. “My,” he thought as he put his head in his hands, “I had traveled so far and gotten so tired, I wish I had brought along a flask of water and a bundle of bread… I think I’ll just rest here a moment and try again to make it up this hill.” He then took a stick and cleaned the mud from under his boots.

Faintly, the woodchopper heard an unseen elk crying in the fields down the slope, and he panned the landscape but couldn’t place where the sound was coming from. Not up, not down, not left not right, and then it stopped. Nearing another clearing, he looked up to the peaks that were jutting above the treeline, then suddenly all at once the woodchopper got caught up in all the sounds and sights of nature. He saw the eastern peaks shimmering green in the springtime, the lakes stretching long from the top of the valley to the south, tall pines swaying in the warm breeze as their needles slowly drip one after another onto the soft forest floor beneath. The woodchopper could get a fair glimpse of the lakes he knew were full of rainbow trout and lazy flies skittering on the surface. He looked out towards the black wings gliding along in the skies as the eagles soared from the valleys to their perches. Faint songs were sung from high boughs of the pines when the wind blew through, and he knew, this world around him was that of no other.

Using the handle of his broken axe as a cane, the woodchopper made his way back up the bank towards the beaten path, and back to his home where he was greeted with a hot bowl of soup and his children reading a fairy-tale in the corner by the fireplace.

“My dear,” he started to his wife, “I’ve broken my axe, this brittle thing. I’ve ripped the inside of my hat, and I’ve gone ahead and lost the claw tool I brought with me. What I hadn’t brought with me was a lunch nor a flask of water… I tell you I’ve been heedlessly rummaging around about these woods too long. Thankyou for dinner, and in the morning I’ll be off with firewood in my return.”

The next morning he remembered his faults of the previous day. With a satchel full of mealtime pastries, broadaxe sharpened with a spare stone, flask slung on his back with water, and son by his side the woodchopper made his way into the warped bundle of trees down the bank.

“Son, take heed of the things you will see. I was here yesterday and made quite a fool of myself. Today you and I will harvest and clear a few piles of wood, and we will do it right, for we are within a living wood, full of elk and deer and eagles and fish and wolves and rabbits and trees and people like us. The woods have what we need, and in return we need to take care of and find a balance between what we take and what we give back.”

He said as he pointed his axe from the top of the slide zone to the base, “We will clear this slide area by the close of the summer, and in the next year it will be another thicket for the rabbits and the wolves and the bugs and the deer while we are warm and cozy all winter long.”

The woodchopper gained his title that day, as he and his son took a good helping of wood away from the warped pile and neatly stacked it under the awning of their humble home. They did this all summer, and as the eastern peaks shimmered yellow in the autumn months the slide zone was left clear for another springtime field for all the rabbits to play and the deer to bounce and the eagles to guard. That unseen elk which cried out to the woodchopper now lays to rest by bushels of berries on a carpet of grasses.

The same for all as time went on.

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