It is 2 a.m. and after easily an hour of flip flopping and counting backwards from 200 by 3, which usually works by the way, I found myself not only wide awake but sitting at my keyboard. Sometimes it’s garlic, but tonight a particularly bad dream was the culprit. Let me say first while following that train of thought, I am a prolific dreamer. If the ones I remember are half of those I have, I must dream from the time I close my eyes at night until they open again in the morning. Lately, not surprisingly many seem to center around moving, but here and there in the night my subconscious insists on throwing in what I refer to as “the bear dream” for good measure. Doing some research on the subject out of curiosity, in the world of psychologists and psychiatrists dreams are generally considered your subconscious mind trying to work out a problem or dilemma faced in your waking world while you sleep. Interesting. That being said, it would seem on some level I have issues with the bear.
Jung feels animals represent different aspects of the personality symbolic of untamed emotional parts of a person’s psyche. Thus, the key element in interpreting what emotional part of you is being expressed in a bear dream is to focus on what the bear means to you and how your bear dreams make you feel. To discover the meaning I first have to establish what bears represent to me personally? Um, big teeth, bigger claws, a taste for humans and I do not mean as a choice of companions. I don’t know. One article I read said I have mother issues. What, don’t we all?
While pondering the complexities of my inner mind, it got me thinking of conscious dealings I’ve had with the beasts through the years. Surely Jung’s versions are of a symbolic nature rather than actual. In the realm of reality, looking back, at least three times I had actual or too close for comfort contact with bears.
My first encounter with the beast would have been in my sophomore year of high school. It was to be the only time we ever went camping as a family and Yosemite was the chosen venue. As I recall, it was a glorious week in the great outdoors. My stepbrother and I roughed it under the stars in sleeping bags on cots while our parents enjoyed the comfort of a real bed of sorts in a rented trailer close by. On the second night I was shaken awake by my stepbrother, two years my junior. Eyes focusing, I could see him frantically gesturing towards a large brown bear (Well, are there any small ones?) losing a noisy fight with a locked trash can close by. Grabbing our sleeping bags, we slunk to the trailer, and knocked on the door. No answer forthcoming, the only other option was to climb in the car, which we did without discussion. It was mid-summer and sticky hot outside even at the late hour, but the windows remained shut. Losing his battle with the now dented trash bin, the hirsute bad boy pointed his snout in the air and, apparently smelling young meat in the area, turned in our direction. Oh-oh. I can see those curious brown eyes examining us like we were a couple of salmon swimming upstream. Lumbering across the campsite he stopped just outside the car window. From our vantage point we could see the patterns in his fur and almost smell his undoubtedly fishy breath. My bowels got looser than a prison snitch’s tongue. After what seemed a lifetime, but probably only a brief inspection, he seemed to decide the task of prying us out of our metal container too much trouble for a midnight snack. Losing interest, he uttered several derisive grunts and wandered off towards the woods. That was the last real sleep I got until we returned home the following weekend.
The next time would have been when my children were small. Their dad and I took them on a cross-country odyssey lasting nearly a year in our old Ford station wagon. During our time on the road we explored most of the states and dabbled in the eastern Canadian provinces as well. At one point, we slept outside a zoo somewhere in Ontario. Lulled to sleep by muffled roars and growls coming from the cages inside the fence, it wasn’t long before our young charges were nudging us to sleep inside the car. Seems there’s a pattern developing here. Surviving the night, we washed off at a rest stop and stopped for steaming plates of fresh blueberry pancakes smothered in real Canadian maple syrup at a charming country inn. Too gorged to sit in the car, we explored the beautiful gardens surrounding the inn. Far to the rear of the property we were surprised to discover a live bear pacing agitatedly in a relatively small cage. If bears can look sad, this one did. A handwritten sign reading “Do Not Feed the Wildlife” hung on one corner. I had the overwhelming urge to free this poor creature, though thinking back had I done so I more likely would have been breakfast than ordering it.
The last encounter, or near encounter, I had with a bear was most likely a grizzly and once again it was on Canadian soil. In 1999 we had a family reunion in one of the more perfect settings Canada has to offer, Jasper, Alberta. Our lodge sat on a ridge overlooking a river popular with the local raft guides. Each family pod had their own cabin equipped with full kitchens and a fireplace. There were 22 of us in total, 6 being children, and each night we would meet for cocktails at 5:00 and then convene to the “cabin of the night” for a meal prepared by whoever was staying there. It was so much fun, meals ranged from Beef Wellington to delicate stuffed whole salmon. Bears are a fact of life in the area, along with a wide variety of wildlife. Cars would stop on the road to allow mountain goats to pass, or a small herd of elk. Several bears were sighted off the road provoking flash bulbs to blink in each of our cars, and signs advising tourists as to what to do if approached by one on a trail were posted everywhere you went.
One morning I took my mother and her younger sister for a nature walk. Being the youngest member of the trio I felt responsible for the other two ladies. Instructed by the men in our group with regard to bear safety we took a stick and headed down a trail abutting the river bank. Soon we came across piles of fresh scat and the hair on the back of my neck began to prickle. A ruffing sound came from up ahead and rustling in the bushes. All thoughts of standing my ground, lifting my arms, and looking big flew out the window, and I dragged the two older ladies back along the trail behind me as though flying two kites on a mountainside. It took two hours and a nice glass of chardonnay to get my heart to return to a normal beat. Perhaps the bear is a sign, but whatever it is I would like to downsize to, say a bunny, or a kitten for a change of pace.
This recipe is so easy and versatile. It’s a great way to use leftover noodles and tastes as though you devoted some time to it. Often with recipes I end up with extra farfalle or egg noodles. I freeze them and pull them out when it’s time to enjoy this yummy side dish.
Simply Delicious Fried Noodles
2 cups cooked Farfalle or egg noodles
2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
Either cook pasta according to package directions if not using leftovers, or use leftover noodles.
In large skillet heat butter and olive oil over med. heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 3 mins. Add noodles to skillet. Cook until light golden brown, about 8 mins. stirring frequently (some noodles will be a bit crispy on edges). Sprinkle with parsley, red pepper flakes (optional) and 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese. Stir until cheese is melted. Remove from heat. Serve immediately with remainder of Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.