The Land of Bena-Col – A Children's Story in Serialized Form

Once upon a time, deep within the great bear forest of Bena Col, there lived a strong and sturdy old pine tree that had stood towering above his many friends for almost sixty years. This mighty pine had chosen to name herself Kaloona and it was by this name that her many other tree friends and all her little animal and bird visitors knew her.

From Kaloona's towering top, she had a marvellous view of both the ocean and the seemingly endless rugged mountains and it was here she had come to realize how fortunately she had to grow up amidst such overwhelming natural beauty and also amidst so many thoughtful friends. Her strong branches had provided both shelter and homes for her numerous feathered friends while her mighty wide span had always provided some much needed shade for friends like little Tika the bear cub, who came by almost every day on his way to the river with his Mom for their daily salmon lunch. Yes, thought Kaloona, I have a right to be proud and stand tall inside the great bear forest, for it is I who has stayed strong and provided protection and shelter for all those who needed it over these many years.

It was now heading into late Spring and the great bear forest was already showing many signs of new life, with flowers and young siblings spread across the forest floor. Nests were sprinkled across the forest in all the safest places and numerous little eggs were being kept warm by a varied range of little proud Mommies. The red deer and even the white tails were bobbing around on a daily basis, as though they had springs in their feet and the normally grumpy old Mr Kribbs the local brown bear, had slowly started showing signs of normalcy again after waking from his incredibly long winter sleep. New growth was prominent on all of the trees and buds continued to open with each soft and warmer breeze that meandered through the forest.

Kaloona breathed in the clear spring air and she felt content. Her home was right here among her friends and even during the darkness of winter, when the heavy snow bends her great branches down, Kaloona still retained content for this is the place she knows and this is the place she will stay. Her thoughts were suddenly disturbed by the high pitched squawking of countless birds as they furiously swooped over her tall head and off into the distance. A few of the birds landed on Kaloona's branches for a break and she asked them "What's all the fuss about and where are you all heading for in such a hurry?" Malka, the eldest of the landed birds was quick to tell Kaloona, "Huge machines! Lots of noise! ​​Trees falling down!" he urged and after a stretch of his wings, continued; "Humans have come to our great forest with noisy machines and buzzing chain saws and they are cutting down many of our tree friends …. we are all heading deep into the interior and close to the lake, where we should be well away from all of this destruction and noise. " With that being said, Malka and the rest of his friends all rose to the sky once again and before Kaloona could say anything; they were off into the distance.

Stretch as much as she could, Kaloona could see nothing of these noisy machines looking over the forest canopy. All she knew was that the humans had arrived at the edge of her forest and had started falling trees which had stood there almost as long as she had. She surprised if they would ever be coming her way and if so, how long would it be before they were there? Suddenly, her tranquil and serene world had been shattered by something she had not expected nor imagined. The so called march of progress for humans …… but not for trees!

Slowly the day turned towards evening and again, many of the birds had returned to fly from tree to tree whistling as if nothing had even happened. The noise of the humans had ceased and so, everyone was thinking they had finished and once again moved back to where they had come from. Waldo the owl was bumbling around from tree to tree telling everyone they had to come and attend a meeting under the great branches of Kaloona. "To Who" shouted Waldo to confuse everyone, as he moved on to his next tree. Kaloona was already aware of the forest meeting as there on the forest floor under her great branches, quite a few friends had already gathered. Miko and Chima the red deer brothers were right at Kaloona's trunk, while numerous squirrels, a couple of skunks and even Mr Kribbs had also settled down to await the meeting's banquetment. Kaloona spread her largest bottom branches so she could have a good view of the proceedings and also, this provided better balcony seating for her feathered friends.

The fire flies gathered in clusters around the big pine and this gave everyone some extra light to see the speaker for the meeting. Quite a crowd was gathering and Fortunately, everyone was intent on keeping their best behavior, with no fighting or biting allowed and certainly no arguing over who should sit where. By the end of one hour, everyone from the neighboring areas had gathered around and under the shelter of mighty Kaloona. The meeting would now stay.

Meantime, on the other side of the mountain a huge clearing had been created for a logging camp that was now standing there. There inside one of the sheds, a small group of rather scruffy men sat around a rickety old table drinking beer and discussing how they would go about working their way way through the great bear forest. Their boss John Wise, listened to their rambling plans knowing full well that his years of experience and wisdom, would simply guide his crew to where they would go and what they would do. John had been working in the logging business for most of his life and had come to know many things about the forest and the many different trees that grow within it. Soon, his years of experience would be needed, although at that point in time old John knew nothing about that yet.

The quiet murmurs were silenced by the sound "To Who …. To Who" as the supposedly wise Waldo the owl called the meeting to order. Once silence of his audience was obvious, he continued; "This meeting has been called by our friend Belak the black bear, for it was he who had the courage to travel close to the humans today and to watch and listen to them. then decide what we can do about it. " With that, Waldo almost fell off the branch in his hurry to take his place on the upper branch. Belak wandered through the crowd to the Kaloona's base, turned around to face his audience and then standing to his full height started. "The humans have come to our forest and already they have taken more than forty of our tree friends. The audience as though in harmony and all looking intent gave a loud sigh together. "These humans have gone now but I feel this is only because it was getting dark and it is likely they will return tomorrow again." continued Belak as he scratched his back against Kaloona's broad trunk.

Looking around his audience, Belak roared out "These humans are a danger to us all and they have large and noisy machines that carry our trees away. We must come up with a plan to stop them before it is too late for us all and we lose everything we have always known and loved. " He moved forward into the mid of the audience and stated; "Tomorrow, we shall go and watch the humans. What do they do and how they do it and from this, we must learn about them if we are to find something to stop them." Wandering on further, Belak looked back and finished his speech by saying; "Tomorrow I say. We must go and watch and learn. We must not be seen by them but they have to be seen by us. here! " and with that said, the old bear wandered off into the darkness and home for the night. The audience was in a scramble with muttering, shouting, anxiety and stress when Kaloona spoke out. "I will give directions to those who choose to go forth and I will keep watch from above, in case the humans decide to move in this direction. our friends and our families from the humans. Good night! " she finished and slowly returned her great branches to their original positions as the many birds took off to their nests for the reminder of the night.

The great bear forest of Bena Col had been here since long ago, in the days after the mighty glaciers had melted and the land was still young. The forest had changed as the years passed by the great trees had laid witness to many things, like huge lightening storms and violent winds with heavy rain. Storms that on many occasions had taken many of their weaker friends and left them lying on the forest floor to rot. The bears roamed free and undisturbed by the many stresses of the then unknown civil world that still was far away. Very often, a hunter or two would come through the forest on horseback and they were usually men dressed in strange skin coats and fur hats, or sometimes young braves of the First Nations out on the hunt to prove them worthy around the camp fires of their villages. The great forest has always been like a hidden secret place where time itself had stood still with nothing much changing there ……. ever.

The first signs of an early sunrise were showing a warm pink glow along the distant mountain ridge and the sky appeared almost cloudy. It looked like becoming a beautiful day in the great bear forest and there, at this almost unearthly hour of the morning, a small group of animals were already gathering under the old pine tree. Kaloona swayed and stretched her limbs as she looked own upon this array of diverse creatures. Belak the bear had parked his rather wide butt on one of Kaloona's protruding roots and close by was Silvo the fox, Billy Beaver and even little Rene 'the fastest Racoon in the forest. Surprising as it may seem, the two Coyote sisters Vilma and Volma were also there to join the excited party. The sunlight had now brightened up the forest and beams of lights were dashing through the high trees and creating a stage like setting with spotlights and all. Now, everyone was almost ready to move out on their search for the unwelcome humans near the forest edge.

Belak of course had put himself totally in charge of the group and felt it was only right that he should lead the way. Off he rambled through the wild forest brush with everyone else following on behind him like a platoon of little soldiers. What they would find at the end of their march was anyone's guess at this point, but they were all feeling strong both in will and in body as they continued onwards through the sun dappled forest, heading ever closer to where they thought the menacing humans might be.

Source by Robert M Littlejohn

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