Bjorn was born in a far northern forest up where it was very, very cold in winter. Bjorn had been born in the dead of winter with his brother and sister, Berta and Esben. They spent that first winter cuddled close to their mama and as they got older she started to tell them stories about the outside world.
Deep in their den she told them about tall trees they would see and deep, cold lakes and about the high mountains around the place they lived. He heard about the salmon that swam in the rivers in spring and about the rabbits and squirrels that lived near the den. His mom told them where they could find a honey tree and where the best back scratching trees were.
When spring came there were no more stories, Mama led them out into a world of wonder. To the bear’s eyes the world was born anew just for them. The snow was gone and the water ran clear. Mama taught them to hunt and to fish. She taught them how to hide in plain sight as they grew. She taught them to stay away from people. People had guns and guns hurt bears.
They grew quickly ambling along in the forest and the summer passed in beautiful days of deep burning blue skies and sunlit days in their northern forest. As the days got shorter Mama showed them where the best blackberry bushes were and the cubs stuffed themselves fat. They got so sticky Mama had to dunk them all in the spring and in late fall they went back to their den to sleep. This year, when they woke up in their long sleep Mama would tell them about a tree that she had seen one winter not far from their lair. She had woken in up on Solstice night and had felt the need to walk in the quiet of the forest. It had been silent except for the owls and she had seen a bright light.
Mama bear followed the light across the forest and watched it land in a little pine trees branches. The tree had stood there bearing the star in its branches and had lit up their forest. It was so beautiful. The bear had gone back to her den to sleep after the lovely sight and had never managed to wake up again on Solstice Night. The cubs bothered her the rest of winter for that story. It became their favourite winter story and Bjorn began to have a dream. He wanted to stay awake and see the tree and the star but that winter was deep and cold and the bears slept most of the winter and didn’t come out until the next spring.
The bear cubs were bigger that year and Mama spent most of the summer teaching them how to be on their own. That fall they would have to make their own dens for the first time. She taught them how much they needed to eat to store enough fat to make it through the winter. She taught them how to make it cozy and she taught them how to stay away from other bigger bears. Soon it came to be fall and the cubs split up for the first and last time. Each of them choosing a different direction to go and seek a place to make their own and all the time he was choosing and making his own den, Bjorn day dreamed. He was going to find some way to wake up and see the tree and star.
He kept trying to figure out a way to wake himself up. His mother had told him that just wasn’t possible, that if he was meant to see it he would wake up in exactly the right time to see it, otherwise it just wasn’t meant to be. She had supposed that it was something most bears would ever see once in a life time and then only if they were very, very lucky. She didn’t even know if it happened every year or if it had happened only once. She had never heard anybody else in the forest ever talk about it.
Bjorn swore he would be that lucky bear! He would wake up on Winter Solstice and he would see that star and his friend, the tree. He wanted to know what that special night was like. He wanted it with all his heart and he kept whispering to himself as he lay down for his winter nap to “Remember to wake up! Remember to wake up!”
He extremely disappointed to wake up and it was almost spring. It was different in a den by yourself with no brother and sister and no mama to tell you tales. He had slept the winter away and missed it. He was horribly disappointed and fell back asleep until spring had truly arrived.
This went on for several years and Bjorn had decided it just was a dream his mom had dreamed and maybe he should just give it up. Bears belonged in dens in the winter sleeping not roaming around in the cold and dark forest.
Bjorn was making his den again one fall and he remembered the story but just shook his great black head. No point in wishing, he would just sleep anyway and tucked himself into his lair but this year was different.
One cold, cold clear night Bjorn woke up. At first he was disoriented. What had woken him up? And then he heard it. He could hear a faint chiming and see a bit of light filtering in the entrance to his den. “Could it be? Could it really truly be?”
Bjorn shot out of his den and pushed the heavy snow way from his den and stood up. The light was coming from the north but not very far away at all! He started to move quickly through the snow. He saw other animals around him, a small herd of elk. Snowshoe hares that should have been asleep were lolloping through the snow. White owls that flew silently over head hooting softly. “Come, come celebrate with usssss”
And they came. They came to a tree that was standing all alone in a field of deep snow. In the tree’s branches a star hung nestled at the top and shedding star dust all around. The snow sparkled and shone all around. The animals crept closer and closer and soon it seemed every kind of animal was there and on this night it felt like they were all friends. A deep peace hung over the forest and the only thing that could be heard was a soft chiming from the star.
Bjorn had never felt this way before. No hunger, no need to hunt, just a need to be with other creatures and to maybe, just maybe have friends and be at peace. He looked at the other animals. They seemed to be feeling the same thing as they sat in large circles around that tree absorbing the blessing of the tree and the star and Bjorn thought to himself, “Sometimes having a dream come true is better than any dream.”
He sat in the snow and a small hare snuggled up to him and then a squirrel. A great deer lay down near by and an owl sat in the rack of his antlers. For this night there was peace in the forest and the blessing of a star from far away and a lonely little tree that was his friend.