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Word From The North

Dwelling at the Bottom of the Lake

Gratitude for the lessons of life

Van Allen Bear



Many greetings, dear readers.

I’ll tell you a tale from this summer, a milestone tale indeed. A tale of great loss and great rewards. Good fun and solemn, sour twists.

The setting, of course: A rainy lake in the vast valleys on the northern expanse of the Alaska Range, east of the Matanuska glacier field. My good friend was to bed wed, and as you know with such things, that called for many celebratory measures! As these things go, naturally, watersports were in high order.

Water Skiing is a sport I have developed little to no skill at, so this was a perfect opportunity to try my hand. Of course, my good colleague went first, and we strapped him together and gave him a good send-off from the dock to be towed by one of the jetskis. I was manning another jetski in order to provide both moral support and lend a hand in the event of a false launch. My dear colleague made it a great distance for his first time, and we were all impressed. About a football field’s length across the water, he had lost his balance and dropped the tow line.

Not remembering that my cellphone was tucked into the breastplate of my flotation device, I dropped my phone, accidentally, straight into the middle of the deepest part of the lake while capsizing one or two times as my colleague and I struggled to properly board my watercraft. We eventually boarded and strapped him in yet again. He did well his second run, a good sport. I was next in line. With a few pointers from the gentlemen present and the demonstration beforehand, I did rather well, I do say. It was quite the time!

Upon returning to shore, I searched ’round for my cellphone, to no avail.

Much thinking, backtracking, calling, and ponderance later, I solemnly concluded that it was indeed at the bottom of the lake.

I was distraught, and separated myself from the group to take a short nap in the driver’s seat of my vehicle. 

Refreshed, I went to the edge of the water and looked out at the still, cold plane. Helplessness, was the word. Even if it was miraculously recovered, it would be of no use for it was assuredly fried. That deep feeling in the pit of your skull when you’re forced to watch a train wreck, that was all wiped away when I had such a curious thought, “why would I want it back… what had been lost?” Across my face came a smile, and a boastful laugh, “I’ve finally gained freedom from the tangle, I should have thrown the demented thing in the lake myself, and a long time ago!”

“I’ve finally gained freedom from the tangle, I should have thrown the demented thing in the lake myself, and a long time ago!”

young man, phoneless circa 2020

Photos lost, gone forever. Videos, texts, heartbreaks and heart throbs, strings tied to the higher mind–severed in an instant. Evaporated, alleviating an odd pressure. The recoiling strands were thankful to have rest once more, eager to strengthen the grasp of what was most pertinent to my immediate life and successes. It’s almost as though my consciousness was waiting for something this tumultuous to occur, for I was being too stubborn, allowing for past transgressions to roil within the forefront of my mind.

I didn’t get another phone for about 10 days even though it was necessary for work. Those 10 days were the quietest of the summer, where I had no one to answer to and could truly be off the reservation, in my own ways.

Now, dear reader, I’m not suggesting you toss your phone into the nearest body of water, or leave it on train tracks, or give it to copper enthusiasts… that’s a you thing, not a me thing. All I’m wishing to impart upon you is: helpless situations have a silver lining, and sometimes hidden blessings.

P.S. If you cannot afford to be a wildman like me, save things offline you cannot part with.

Word From The North

Wolves in the Dark

An agreement, of sorts.

Van Allen Bear



Dear readers, gather round extra close for this tale. This tale was lived-out by myself and many other young men at the time in which it took place, the tale of the wolves in the dark. One evening while canoeing a fleet of manned canoes (some were fastened with make-shift sails), gray wolves were seen along the banks of the Yukon River. Following us paddlers, they were spotted running along the treeline the same direction as our fleet. Briefly afterwards, they disappeared into the brush, never to be seen again.

Hours later we beached and made camp. Campfires and stories–all in a summer night’s close! That part of the world hardly gets dark during the summer, mind you, only for a few hours in the deep of the morning. That’s when the shadows are afforded their daily dance. After a good ‘marking of the territory’ we bedded down for rest.

The inevitability of the event was thrilling. Knowing they were coming for us and eventually having to get off the water and set up camp. We weren’t frightened: we knew they were going to come at one time or another, so we had been prepared. With the adults on the perimeter we clustered our tents in a circle, pocket knives were kept by us as we slept, kept food isolated in sealed containers, and tented-up in pairs.

Guard the gravy

They didn’t get into anything, they didn’t attack anyone, and they didn’t make any noise. Not a single huff or puff, not a sniff nor a growl. However, we knew that they had undoubtedly been around all of the dark hours in the morning, for there were countless wolf tracks going everywhere through camp between the tents, the gear, and the boats.

It is good practice for team building, and good to realize from barely the beginning of my teenage years the inevitability of danger and how to mitigate it. Especially since we were canoeing hundreds of miles with only what was in our boats: packed food, oars, tents, and a few misc items.

This was the understanding that was struck between us and the wolves: they won’t bother us if we don’t bother them nor tempt them. As hungry as a pack of wolves may be, if you prepare properly by not leaving out food or stragglers, they will begrudgingly leave you be. This agreement can be found between you and many other types of adversaries in life: if you are prepared and stand your ground, they will be far less inclined to target you or your group. The wilderness is not a theme park, one must continue to strike agreements with the creatures of the woods, the waters, and the air. Fall short on your end of the bargain, well, let’s just keep up our end of the bargain shall we?

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Lemons Are One Thing, But Limes?

What on earth do we do with limes?

Van Allen Bear



Next time someone tells you “oh yeah man listen I hate to break it to ya, but all I got for ya are these lemons here see”–take em and run! Could you imagine how worse-off you would be if you had a handful of limes? I mean, come on, before you say, “hey woah man, it’s all good we can make limeade”–No… Listen guy, I ain’t buyin’ it and nobody I’ve ever known drinks something as silly as limeade. 

Lemons are one thing, but limes? 

Any sensible person, any time in history or future

When life gives us lemons, we can make lemonade and maybe we can get ourselves into a lemonade stand. With that lemonade stand we can get ourselves into the market and start making some seed money for, oh I don’t know, a new *bike* or a bigger hat or even pay your CPA $50 for an LLC to begin creating cargo airships out of scrap aluminum… but, limes? We can even collect them and digitally throw them at a bear for hours of entertainment, but limes?

The difference is beyond measure

Come on, what on earth can we do with a lime? Why is everyone so unenthusiastic about the lemons they might receive from life when they should be most worried about the limes lurking in the shade? Literally lurking in the shade! I just don’t get it.

Why had no one told us about the limes? I bought one as a joke at the supermarket once when I was a young man. What a complete and utter waste of money– it sat in my refrigerator for about one-and-a-half-years before I finally threw it away and bought another one. I figured that this was a mercy purchase, because someone, somewhere actually picked a lime and tried to sell it. I mean, come on that’s hilarious to even think someone would purposefully purchase a lime. Lemons all day, man, that makes sense, but limes? Come on. Don’t be kidding yourself. Don’t be kidding me, do I look like a fool? Gimme a handful of lemons and I’m on the dark side of the moon bartering tree seeds to the Chineses in 6 months. But if you really want to insult someone, go out of your way to purchase them a lime. What a disaster that would cause, oh good Heavens. 

Can you imagine, dear readers, someone who may have the gall to comfort you in a time of distraught with the age-old, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” I wish someone would say, “alright, hold on. You and I both know lemons are rather acidic, however they have nominal market value when coupled with sugar granules and liquid ice. I know that seems like a little bit, but with fractional transactions and investing over 66% of our profit margins into solar battery research, I could both have a new set of rollerblades AND a new sunroof for my prius. With limes… not so much, guy, lime fruits don’t even form a monophyletic group.”

It’s alright, I’m sure lemons fall short in utility, but limes? Come on, man. Not a chance.

Come on…

Lemons are made out to be the bad-guy here, and I don’t see why. I’m just trying to figure this out. They are used in potpourri, as ornaments, mixed into cocktails (haram), zest in cakes, yellow dyes, added to picnic water, pies, puddings, baked bars, squeezed over fried catfish, lemonade, origami, crypto currency, pigment for painting porches, donkey food, soaps, hotel lotions, earrings, tree ornaments… all kinds of things. Limes… sorry yeah drawing a blank. When life gives you lemons, don’t worry about it, just be glad they weren’t limes.

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Word From The North

Life Is Too Short For Regret

This vacuum is an opportunity

Van Allen Bear



Greetings, dearest readers.

As you all know, life has it’s trials in which we are subject to all sorts of toil. Some things in life that have been done at times in which we were unaware, uncertain, or confused may cause regret. There are memories or actions that fall on the quieter side of our minds, which are shuffled away deep into the files. They come to the forefront when we remember that ache that we should have done something or said something, and that fear of, “it’s too late.” Well, this is something natural and quite helpful.

When you have these regrets, it would be best to understand their origins. Through introspection and careful, meaningful thought one may come to understand that God uses regret to push and pull us, much like he uses jealousy. Jealousy can be a natural emotion; however you respond to that emotion is what makes you see past the knee-jerk reaction it may cause. Though we might not know it at the time, we may have varying regrets in our pasts which we can use as fuel and inspiration to take steps now to prevent a ‘missed appointment.’ In many of your cases, those regrets may be a calling to adjust your expectations. In some other cases, including many of my own, regretting inaction in the past leads to inaction in the present.

Make that long put-off call, send that letter, hug that person, fix that bridge, burn those pictures, push that stone back up the mountain.

We cannot let the past define us. No matter how much it hurts, will you truly allow yourself to be defined by that?

Looking forward, a vacuum is an opportunity. People around you may be spiraling, however, everything is getting better for those who are willing to go out and get it. Life is assuredly too short to be twiddling our thumbs and commiserating, when all it takes to shed that weight from your shoulders is to give it away to God, no matter how heavy.

Dear readers I’m not exactly saying let loose the steering wheel, but simply saying that you shouldn’t be alone on your path. I cannot think of a better time in life to act in full passion than these times, the times of the Beartarians.

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