OLLIE-DARE GOES CAMPING
As darkness took over the evening sky, Ollie-Dare would make his way back to his cave and settle in for an hour or so of reading. And on this night, he had a new book to read that his friends had given him for his birthday. He read up into the night, and again the next morning with tea.
The book told of different adventures, and Ollie-Dare found one adventure that sounded like fun. Now it seemed people that lived in cities and towns like to go into the woods and stay for a thing called vacation. They cooked on the open fires, fished from the streams. Now since Ollie-Dare did all these things often, he couldn't understand why everyone seemed to think this was so great.
Ollie-Dare, being a wise bear, knew that he wasn't reading what the people were feeling. Ollie-Dare thought on the subject, and once again decided he must leave his forest to seek the answers.
Upon gathering by the stream the next day, he told his friends of his findings, and his plans to learn more about why people enjoyed camping. As usual, Jimmy the Rabbit begged to go along, but Ollie-Dare knew that without the forest walls, there would be danger. And he didn't want his friends to come to harm, so with a promise that he would tell them everything, he started upon his journey.
Now Ollie-Dare wasn't sure where he was going, where he should go, or how he was going to get there. He started walking along the river's edge, and he walked for miles before coming upon the area where the river widened. The river had grown into a huge body of water, and seemed to flow into the sunset. Ollie-Dare was amazed that the forest river would flow this far and grow this big. He made a mental note of this for Jimmy, and began to walk again. Now Ollie-Dare was a wise bear, so he took his time and listened for changes in the wind and in the sounds of nature.
He had walked several miles when he began to smell smoke, and sure enough, human voices. Slowly, Ollie-Dare walked until he came upon a clearing. There before him was a sight to see - a large canvas structure stood beneath the trees, a fire glowed just beside it, there were boxes of some sort, and a table, and hung on a metal pole was a lantern. Two men sat around the fire, and next to the water's edge stood long metal poles, with lines that disappeared into the water.
A smell of something filled the air that Ollie-Dare hadn't smelled before, he knew it was not tea. However, it had a pleasant smell, and Ollie-Dare was curious of what it was.
Ollie-Dare stepped closer, not quite sure if he should be seen, when one of the men looked his way. At first the man didn't say a word, just stared at Ollie-Dare, then suddenly a smile came upon his face and he called, "Are you Ollie-Dare the wise bear?"
At this Ollie-Dare was at a loss for words, for how could this man know of him. The man called, "I am a friend of Max the river boat pilot and he speaks of you often. Come, we mean you no harm."
Ollie-Dare, remembering his friend Max, joined the two men by the fire. They shook hands and introduced themselves as Keith the campground manager, and Jim the contractor.
The nice aroma Ollie-Dare soon learned was a brew called coffee, and even though it didn't have the same smooth delicate taste of Ollie-Dare's fresh tea, it was still quite tasty. Ollie-Dare listened to the often-funny stories that Keith and Jim told, and the fish tales that he was certain grew with each telling. He enjoyed the teasing between the two men, and felt at home. Ollie-Dare told them of his forest and his best friends, and asked many questions about Max.
Soon evening came and the sun was painting the sky with colors of warm orange. After telling the men of his quest, they had invited Ollie-Dare to join their vacation, so he settled in for a little much needed rest.
Sunrise came and again Ollie-Dare enjoyed the taste of coffee plus fresh pancakes that Jim had prepared. Keith was already busy gathering the equipment they would need for their day of fishing, and presented Ollie-Dare with a very nice gift of a fishing pole for his use. Ollie-Dare was looking forward to his day and happy that he had found two new friends.
Soon, off they went to do their fishing, and Ollie-Dare smiled to himself, for he had fished all his life and knew very well where the best spot would be. He thought he would just surprise his two friends come supper time. You could hear laughter as the three set off, and friendly words of teasing about how one would bring the others' meal home. It reminded Ollie-Dare of his best friends and how much he missed them. But soon he would return with stories to tell and long evenings to tell them in.
As the day wore on, Ollie-Dare loaded his basket with fresh trout. When he made his way back to camp, he came upon fresh berries that he stopped and picked, thinking he would surprise his friends with a fresh baked berry pie. He entered the camp about the time the men did, and upon seeing his catch, the men were laughingly ashamed of the few they had managed to bring.
Ollie-Dare volunteered to fix his first camp-site supper, with the approval of the openly pleased men. And as he started his work, the men asked questions on Ollie-Dare's fishing secrets. Ollie-Dare was all too pleased to share his knowledge, and offered more tips on staying in the wild. Keith and Jim gathered around and soon their plates were piled high with fresh trout and baked pie. Ollie-Dare had prepared fresh tea for them to drink, and cool water from the spring he had found. They were all happy and full, and once again the sound of laughter could be heard along the river's banks.
Ollie-Dare finally asked the question, "Why do you find camping so much fun, when I have read of the giant parks you enjoy, and the tourist towns filled with so much to do?"
Keith answered with a grin, "Well, my friend, those places are nice, but here we can relax and enjoy the fresh crisp air of morning, the cool breeze of dusk. Here, the birds sing, and the crickets call their soothing melodies. Time here, seems to stop, there are no telephones, or blaring horns. In our world everything's in such a hurry."
Jim added, "And don't forget the smell of wood in the air, and the aroma of fresh caught fish. There is nothing like it, my friend."
Ollie-Dare thought for a moment and answered, "Well, I can understand these things, but you must realize that my forest and its creatures must do this to live. We depend upon the fresh water streams to eat, and the wild berries. The open air is our home and the birds in song our music. We use the forest wisely, and respect it with our hearts. I have seen much destroyed by man that can not be replaced, for not all men are as kind and as wise as the two of you."
Knowingly, both the men shook their heads, and sadness filled their eyes. "Ollie-Dare," asked Jim, "How can we help you and your forest stay safe?"
Ollie Dare thought upon Jim's words before answering, "I am not sure, my friend, but reporting carelessness, and spreading the word to do this reporting, you can help keep our forest litter free, and green. Tell your children about the forest and how it needs protection. Teach them how to camp with safety and not start fires. Fish from our rivers, but take the trash with you, camp in and share our home, but respect it. I think in all these things we can live as friends."
"Those are very wise words, Ollie-Dare," said Keith, "and we will begin a campaign to see that our children learn these things, and we will report those that do not respect the land."
As Ollie-Dare left the camp-site the next morning, his new friends called to him with warm words of farewells. Ollie-Dare traveled for several days before he finally began to see the sights of home. In the distance he could hear Fanny singing, and Nibbles calling from her treetop nest. As always, Ollie-Dare was glad to be back within the forest walls, for there was no place like home.
Soon he entered his cave and it wasn't long before the fresh aroma of tea filled the air. Ollie-Dare, smiling, set out four cups and waited, for he knew that it wouldn't be long before his friends would be coming through the door. Not being disappointing, they entered several minutes later full of questions on Ollie-Dare's new adventure.
They sipped tea and listened with wide eyed wonder at the things that Ollie-Dare had seen, and done. Jimmy was excited that next year they would come to the forest, and he, too, could meet Ollie-Dare's new friends.
ACE asked "Ollie-Dare, can these new friends help in protecting our forest, or better yet, will they try?"
Ollie-Dare answered, "Yes, Ace, they can help, and by doing their part they can teach others. Yes, my new friends were men of their words. You and all the forest creatures can help also, by respecting man and by teaching others to care. By doing this, the forest and the land beyond the forest will be here for generations to come."
©2002 Rebecca Morris