By Jenny Kalahar
The weather outside is turning frightful or delightful. That, I suppose, depends upon your perspective. I grew up in Michigan. I loved winter! My four older brothers and I would sled, build giant snow forts, have snowball fights, make snow angels, and generally have a blast in the white, fluffy stuff that fell from the gray, winter skies. My childhood dog, Skipper, also loved the snow. But he also loved to burrow into his hay-filled house or come inside to lay beside our wood-burning antique stove. He was so furry (being half Sheepdog) that he reminded me of a bear when he had grown out his long winter fur coat. This poem is about a dog who thought hibernating sounded like a great idea to escape the snow and ice until spring.
My paws are tired of being too cold
and this ice is too slick, this snow too high
the air too crisp upon my lips
the frost so crunch between my toes.
It’s hard to be a dog in the winter!
I want to be a bear!
In a cave somewhere
I’ll lay me down
on softest hay
and burrow in
and end my thoughts of ice and snow—
I’ll be a bear
It would be great to be a bear
to eat all fall to be prepared
to sleep a slumber deep and warm
my fur grown thick
my days like night
so undisturbed and quiet there
within a cave.
I’d be a bear!
But then I think about my boy
and girl who love me, and whom I love.
Would they miss me all the winter long?
Would I miss them even as I sleep?
Would I dream of chasing my favorite ball?
Would I pace my cave and not sleep at all?
Who would take my perfect spot by the fireplace?
Who could give the kids wet kisses on their faces?
If I were gone to sleep in a cave
to be a bear and not a dog
no one would be in the house when they came home
to greet them with tail wags, to dance in joy
to run outside with my girl and boy
Let me think a while longer about staying a dog
about the older folks I visit in their care home.
About the mailman who brings me a treat
when I shout to let Mom know her letters have come.
About the new baby who’s coming real soon
and who will need guarding and help learning to crawl.
I wonder if they will all miss me if I go somewhere
off to a cave to turn into a bear.
What’s this? A pine tree is being brought into the house!
It smells like the woods right here by the fire!
And there’s pretty lights on it, and balls and a star,
and boxes underneath the low branches—just look!
And a new bed for me that is shaped like a cave
with a fuzzy, soft feel that’s much better than hay
How could I think of leaving my family and friends?
How could I have ever wanted to run off to hibernate?
I have a house full of tender, loving care
I’ll never again want to turn into a bear
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