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The Birthday Party


It isnít generally known that bears arenít that excited about birthdays.Iím not saying that bears donít like holidays; quite the contrary.The first day of the Salmon run is a popular bear holiday where everyone gets together for a day-long celebration that usually continues well into the night.The first day of berry season is the same, with a day of feasting on fresh picked berries, followed by a night of more feasting on fresh-picked fruit.Bears love holidays; they just donít think birthdays are all that special.Iíve been pondering this for a while now, and I think Iíve finally figured out why thatis. There are two kinds of holidays.One is those days that everyone celebrates together, like New Yearís for people, or the first day of berry season for bears.These holidays are special because they are a time for everyone to celebrate together.The second type of celebration is a special day just for one person.This is what birthdays are supposed to be.Once or twice on my adventures, Iíve met people with a birthday very near a major holiday like Christmas.These people often feel cheated because everyone is celebrating Christmas at the same time as they have their birthday.They donít have a special day that is just for them.


Now imagine if this happened for all birthdays.Birthdays wouldnít be special anymore, and after a while people might stop celebrating them all together.It is a bit like that with bears, but in a way it is even worse.Bears are always born in the spring, so it is common to have many bears with the exact same birthday.And all bears have their birthdays near the first day of spring, which is the day when bears stop hibernating, and can finally leave their den to play in the sunshine.It is the biggest bear celebration of all, and most bears would much rather celebrate spring than their birthday.Bears are very surprised when they hear that people love birthdays.


Long before I began my adventures with my traveling companion, I was fascinated with the things that people did.My father worked for the Aboriginal Bear Committee in Geneva, and he would often invite special guests from the ABC meetings to have dinner at our house.Most of the special guests were bears, but some of them were people, and they would tell me about the things humans liked to do.That was where I first learned that people love to celebrate birthdays.I still donít celebrate my own birthday, but I have discovered I always have a great time when I attend a birthday party for someone else.So I was quite excited when my traveling companion mentioned that we were going to have a Birthday party.Then he told me who it was for, and I got really excited.


Bears donít celebrate birthdays, but they do honour the old and wise bears in the community.During the Salmon run, the very first salmon is always given as a special treat to the oldest bear.It is a great honour to receive the first salmon, and an even bigger honour to catch the first salmon, and present it to the senior bear.Iím telling you all this so you will understand why I was thrilled when I learned the birthday party was for a great-grandmother, who would be 97 years old.Unfortunately I didnít have a fresh salmon to present to great-grandma Helen, but I did give her a big hug and kiss when I wished her a very happy birthday.



Great-grandma Helen has a wonderful family, and her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren were all at the party.I discovered that one of the great-grandchildren was in grade 3.I know many children in grade 3, so I told Megan all about them, and about how much I love my adventures.She listened for a while and then asked if Iíd like to have a mini adventure.I love adventures of any sort, so of course I said yes.Megan said she would take me swimming.I rolled my eyes, and said that didnít sound like an adventure, because I had been swimming many times before.She looked disappointed for a moment, but then her eyes brightened, and she asked me if Iíd ever gone swimming underwater.I was horrified.I hate getting my eyes wet, and besides, you really canít see that well when you put your head under water anyway.This was beginning to look like a very poor adventure, but then she surprised me by asking if Iíd ever worn goggles.I had never even heard of them.When Megan showed me how they worked, and I discovered how well I could see underwater with goggles, I was thrilled.We swam for at least an hour.




After all that exercise, I was ready for a bit of a rest.I love to sit in the sun and read a good book, but unfortunately most books are designed for people who are much larger than I am.I have a really hard time holding people books because they are so large.It makes it difficult to enjoy reading them, and it is certainly not possible to relax.So when my traveling companion brought out a book that was just my size, I was thrilled.I sat on the deck chair and read the entire book that afternoon.



It wasnít necessarily my first choice for summer reading, but I did learn that hands are a lot better for juggling than paws.Oh well.


There were lots of other great-grandchildren at the party too.I made sure to have a good visit with all of them.When I finished reading my book, I went to say hi to Michael and Adam, but I couldnít find them anywhere.Finally, after searching for ages, I found them.Was I in for a surprise!


My grade 3 friends have often told me about something they call ďNintendoĒ.The boys all seem to get very excited about it, but when I ask them to tell me about it, I just canít understand what the fuss is all about.It all sounds rather dull compared with the real life adventures that I have all the time.You donít get to meet people in Nintendo, you donít get to eat tasty food, and you donít get to tell people all about your adventures.If you canít do those things, then what is the point?So Iíve never bothered to try playing Nintendo, even though all my grade 3 friends insist that I should.††


Youíve probably figured out by now that when I found Michael and Adam, they were playing Nintendo.I almost didnít stay, but I did want to spend some time visiting with them, so I decided to sit with them for a few minutes.But I promised myself that under no circumstances was I going to stay more than a few minutes.


Much later, my traveling companion poked his head into the room and told me it was time to come outside.I informed him that I was only going to watch for 5 minutes, just like Iíd promised to myself.Then he told me that Iíd already been watching for over an hour.I couldnít believe it.



When my traveling companion finally managed to get me away from the game, I couldnít wait to tell everyone about my discovery.I told the adults that I thought Iíd only been watching Nintendo for a few minutes, but it had really been well over an hour.I expected them to be shocked, but they all rolled their eyes and muttered something about video games.I couldnít quite make out what they were saying, but it sounded as if they had seen that happen before.No one seemed that excited about my discovery either, but I did eventually find someone who listened to my story. When I insisted that Nintendo was the best thing ever, Duncan smiled and said he would show me something else that I might enjoy even more.


Nintendo is very good, donít get me wrong.But when Duncan showed me the video games on his computer, it was awesome.I know that word is over used, but I was truly in awe, so I think it works here.It was like being there.Unfortunately, I think it will take me a while to learn to play, because my paws are just a little bit too small.But Duncan did let me sit on his shoulder and watch him play.It was the best seat in the house Ė every bit as good as the ones I had at the Winter Olympics.



When my traveling companion came to get me again, he muttered something about another hour wasted.I think he needs to lighten up a bit.


During the school year, I stay in the classroom with my grade 3 friends, but over the summer Iíll have to find somewhere else to stay.I had thought it would be difficult to find an interesting place, but when I discovered that Duncanís room had a computer and Nintendo, it seemed too good to be true!Iím going to ask if I can stay with him this summer.


Much later, my traveling companion finally managed to drag me away from the video games.I was shocked to see the day was almost over, and I still hadnít finished visiting with all the great-grandchildren.I found Sara and Nathan sitting outside catching the last rays of the setting sun, and we had a quiet little chat.I started telling them about video games, but they already seemed to know all about that, so we talked about my many adventures instead.After being inside so long, I was finding the natural light made me squint Ė it does seem to get very bright outside.But it was pleasant and after I relaxed a bit I decided that I really need to spend more time outside, and less time playing video games.(My traveling companion made me write that.I still think he needs to lighten up!)



The day was nearly over when I noticed Ian making a video of the Birthday party.I asked him if he liked making movies, and he began telling me about the films he is making, and about the ones he is acting in.I was just joking, but it turns out that he really does make, and act in, films.He is even going to be in a film in Jamaica this summer.It all sounded fascinating, and I found myself asking all sorts of questions about how you get to be an actor.I wondered if there were any bear actors.He assured me there were all sorts of actors, and asked if I thought Iíd like to become an actor. Iíd never thought about it before, but it certainly did sound exciting.I told him I might be interested, but I had no idea how to even begin.That was when he offered to film a screen test for me, and send it around to some of the directors he knows.Ian said I should send it to all the contacts I have too, so if any of you know someone in the movie business, let me know, and Iíll send you my screen test.Every bit helps!


I know it is a long shot, but I figure that sometimes you just need to go for it.A year ago I never imagined traveling around the world having excellent adventures, but look at what Iíve done already.Maybe some day they will make a movie about ďBernard Bearís Excellent AdventuresĒ. Who would be better qualified than me to play the role of Bernard?If thereís one thing Iíve learned this year, itís that anything can happen.


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