Once upon a time in an enchanted suburb there lived a family.
There was a king. A queen. A couple of princesses. It was quite an ordinary family. They were content; not much happened in their little kingdom.
Then one day funny things did start to happen.
Funny, unexpected things that were not really the ha-ha kind of funny but more of the surreal funny of old-fashioned fairy tales.
The king, a rugged, tough guy sort of king, ignored a nagging pain in his side. And wound up spending his magical summer in the hospital.
The brave queen soldiered on.
And then the princesses began acting funny. They slept-walked into dangerous unknowns, narrowly escaping swirling attic fans and plunges. They threw up. They fainted. Their fair coach failed to complete the trip home.
And yet despite grave doubts, the magical summer did end. Happily-ever-after returned to enchanted suburbia. And the brave queen soldiered on.
And then one day in the palace kitchen . . .
Princess number 2 skipped happily along, successfully navigating the stairs and turning the corner into the kitchen, for she wanted to know what was being prepared for dinner. The Queen was there, chopping veggies; she was unaware of the terror lurking just feet from her precious princess.
The princess threw her hands up and started to scream. And when I say she started to scream I mean SCREAM SCREAM SCREAM as in the horror industry was on the phone immediately trying to sign up such splendid vocal chords.
Her pointed finger shaking, she screamed on. And when the queen followed the wiggling digit she saw, not 2 feet from the warm kitchen with the chopped vegetables and the screaming princess, a bear.
A BIG BEAR.
A BIG BLACK BEAR staring my shrieking princess in the eye.
A big black bear standing on the welcome mat inches outside our patio doors as if he had just taken the burgers from the grill and was merely waiting for the princess to lend him a hand in opening the door.
And then he loped away, pausing once for a slow backward glance. He sauntered into our garden where he found our berries covered in snow, and with a cat-like grace leapt 6 feet to the top of the fence, strolled a bit up top, and disappeared into the afternoon sun.
And the brave queen? She’s kind of at a loss here.