The Legend of Skeleton Bear

I took the boy camp­ing this week­end. Made up a ghost sto­ry about Skele­ton Bear the first night, and fol­lowed up the sec­ond night with an ori­gin sto­ry. Spent the inter­ven­ing time search­ing Salt Fork State Park for the afore­men­tioned Skele­ton Bear. We didn’t talk about or search for The Grass­man, because sasquatch sto­ries are a dime a dozen and played out.

The Story

About 100 years ago there were tons of bears around here, and they were all the kind of bears that mind­ed their own busi­ness and didn’t cause any trou­ble unless some­one brought it with them. They ate fish and berries, lived in caves, and searched for hon­ey. One day a hunter named Hosak came to the area and killed a bear. He took the bear’s skin to sell it at a store and he ate the bear’s meat. When he got to the store, the store­keep­er and the shop­pers were all shocked that the hunter Hosak had killed a bear. They asked him why and he told them that bears were vicious, mean, dan­ger­ous ani­mals. He fright­ened the peo­ple so much that every­one start­ed hunt­ing bears. They would kill bears and use their skins for rugs, and put their heads on plaques on the wall. They would eat the bear meat and leave the bones on the ground.

This con­tin­ued for many years until all the bears had been killed except one. This bear was the nicest bear in all the for­est, and would return miss­ing camp stakes to the tents of campers, gen­tly rub­bing the side of the tent and say­ing “You can call me Bear, I’ve brought back your tent peg.” Despite being the nicest bear in all the for­est, she was sad and a lit­tle angry because she didn’t under­stand why all of her bear friends were being killed. The son of the orig­i­nal hunter was now a young man and decid­ed that he and his dad would find this bear, kill it, and rid the land of bears for­ev­er. The son even said “I’ll take the bear’s bones and tie them togeth­er in the front of Hosak’s Hall so every­one will know who killed the last bear!

The hunter’s son and the hunter Hosak went out into the woods, scat­ter­ing tent pegs as they went. They set up camp and deter­mined to stay awake all night until the bear returned the tent pegs. They stayed up the first night, but the bear didn’t come. They man­aged to stay up the sec­ond night as well, but the bear didn’t come. On the third night, after two days with­out sleep, they could bare­ly keep their eyes open, but, just before dawn they heard a gen­tle rustling on the side of the tent and heard: “You can call me Bear, I’ve brought back your tent peg.”

They hunter Hosak and his son jumped out of their tent with their guns and said “Ha! We’ve got you bear! We’re going to kill you and tie your bones togeth­er in our Hosak’s Hall, so every­one will know we killed the last bear!” And they shot the nicest bear in all the for­est. Before the bear died it said: “A curse on your kind! There’s enough life left in my bones to get revenge! You’ll see!” And the nicest bear in all the for­est died.

The hunter Hosak and his son skinned the bear and removed the meat, and only took the bones with them back to Hosak’s Hall. They tied them togeth­er in the shape of the bear and cov­ered it with an old tent. Then they invit­ed all the peo­ple in the area to a par­ty to see the bones of the nicest bear in the for­est. They all came to Hosak’s Hall and ate lots of food, and drank lots of beer and were appro­pri­ate­ly impressed when the hunter Hosak and his son told their sto­ry and unveiled the bear skele­ton. Some of the peo­ple were sad that all the bears were dead, espe­cial­ly the nicest bear in all the for­est, but they kept these feel­ings to them­selves.

All of the peo­ple invit­ed to the par­ty went home. A few weeks went by and they real­ized that no one had heard from the hunter Hosak or his son. Anoth­er few weeks went by and they decid­ed to send a police­man to check on them. When the police­man got to the place where Hosak’s Hall had been, he didn’t find it. Instead he found a big cave with a bee’s hive hang­ing in front of it, and no sign there had ever been a house, a hunter named Hosak, or his son. Out from the dim­ness of the cave a sham­bling bear emerged. But this bear was only bones! The police­man ran away and Hosak’s Hall became known as Hosak’s Cave, Lair of the Skele­ton Bear.

Soon after this, campers start­ed dis­ap­pear­ing. Their tents were found clawed apart but there was no oth­er sign of what might have hap­pened to them. Peo­ple start­ed whis­per­ing about the curse of the Skele­ton Bear, and it was said that when the bear came to your tent it would ask “Does any­one call you Bear?” If the per­son answered “no”, the bear would kill them fast. If the per­son answered “yes”, but was lying, the bear would kill them slow. If the per­son answered “yes”, and was telling the truth, Skele­ton Bear would leave them in peace.

One day a new group of hunters laid a trap for Skele­ton Bear. When the bear came to the tent, it explod­ed with dyna­mite and destroyed all the bones. But the next night, Skele­ton Bear came back and destroyed the hunters. It’s said that no mat­ter how many times Skele­ton Bear is destroyed, as long as there are bones in the for­est from anoth­er bear killed by hunters, it will return to seek vengeance.

Some Context

I want­ed to tell the boy a sto­ry that would scare him a bit, but make it so that, in the end, he felt safe and con­fi­dent enough to sleep. The first night, I told him about how Skele­ton Bear attacks the campers, and since I’ve been call­ing the lit­tle guy “Bear” since he was small­er than a small one, if the Skele­ton Bear came to our tent in the night, he could hon­est­ly answer the ques­tion and be safe. The next day we wan­dered around the park look­ing for Skele­ton Bear, and while we were on a bri­dle trail I con­vinced him that fall­en trees had been crashed by Skele­ton Bear, that the horse dung was from Skele­ton Bear, etc. By the time we got to Hosak’s Cave, he was reach­ing his own con­clu­sions. We got back to camp and he lost a tent peg, that I lat­er found and pock­et­ed. I laid the ori­gin sto­ry on him by the fire that night and put the tent peg by his shoes where he might find it in the morn­ing. He did, of course, and is con­vinced that there’s still a lit­tle bit of good in Skele­ton Bear some­where.

And he’s not scared at all.

Fasces

It was just some 
cumulo-nimbus blown 
upcountry - a brash 
rattling of brown 
leaves. The town stood 
sentinel as dusk
scuttled the last light 
and we, each 
of us, turned back
inside.

Doors apocopated, the thunder
presaged, cozened by stacks 
of cut wood under
eaves, warm orange 
light sealed in 
windows.

Of each home
the storm broke
them all.

At dawn we gathered by the church
and counted ourselves
breakfasted on toast
tasting of kerosene and 
butter

and got to work.

Listened as the
wind sieved through our
knotted bundle of broken reeds
for that first 
bone-haunted loon cry.

Beard Oil & Its Ramifications

So, beard oil is a thing that exists. I was intrigued that, thus impart­ed to me, in fact, some peo­ple oil their beards. The first thing I dis­cov­ered is that beard oil is fuck­ing expen­sive. The next thing I dis­cov­ered is that mak­ing your own is only a mod­icum less fuck­ing expen­sive. Dis­mayed but not daunt­ed, I final­ly came across Dream Beard Oils and felt com­fort­able drop­ping $12 for 4 dif­fer­ent sam­ples.

Be pre­pared: oil­ing your beard feels deca­dent, friv­o­lous and affect­ed. This will not be a prob­lem for those who aspire to lom­bardy due to style con­sid­er­a­tions, but is a bit uncom­fort­able to those of us who are instinc­tu­al­ly pre­dis­posed to face fur.

You don’t use much, per­haps 10 drops for a full beard. Your beard doesn’t get oily. I used more oil on my chin than else­where. I imme­di­ate­ly noticed a change in both the albe­do and grit of my beard as well as a sooth­ing of the under­ly­ing skin, a balm I wasn’t aware was need­ed. I antic­i­pate a con­comi­tant decrease in sta­t­ic charge dur­ing cold dry win­ter.

I assume that, in addi­tion to keep­ing the skin healthy, the oil on the beard pre­vents the skin from los­ing fur­ther mois­ture to the hair.

If you don’t feel the neces­si­ty of ascrib­ing to the use of rare oils and sundry tinc­tures that add cost and scent but pro­vide dubi­ous effi­ca­cy, buy­ing a nice high-grade food oil like grape­seed oil will do the trick and be much cheap­er.

I am scent agnos­tic at this point. I am not a cologne or after­shave man, but a light nat­ur­al scent to my beard does appeal. I could just as eas­i­ly go with some­thing unscent­ed. I think that the occa­sion­al heav­ier oil­ing and then groom­ing with a semi-porous nat­ur­al-mate­r­i­al comb (wood, prob­a­bly) would also be ben­e­fi­cial. Even­tu­al­ly enough oil would sat­u­rate the comb that a light run-through would even do the trick.

A bit about the scents from the Dream Beard sam­pler:

  • Beard­ed Bar­ber” has a pre­dom­i­nant­ly astrin­gent tea tree scent. Per­haps a hint of flower. The smell fades with­in a cou­ple of hours, and is not strong to begin with.
  • Mechan­ic” is patchouli. I’m guess­ing this choice was made because mechan­ics and hip­pies are both greasy? Not gonna use this one again.
  • Lum­ber­jack” smells piney. Imag­ine organ­ic Pine-Sol or a free-range, ver­ti­cal­ly farmed car air fresh­en­er from “Repo Man” and you get the idea.
  • Car­pen­ter” has a pleas­ant wood smell, but isn’t imme­di­ate­ly iden­ti­fi­able. I like it the best.

After a few days of use my beard is a notice­ably less wretched tan­gle, and my skin notice­ably health­i­er.

Still feels stu­pid though.