Monday, July 21, 2008

The Land of the Flowered Bed heads North 2

Continued from last week....

As the door creaked open slowly, a snowy mountain sloped downhill to a grey stream. Lush green bushes and pink flowers lay to their left, while a large leafy tree stretched miles above them. Giddy, the seals chattered and leaped onto the snowy mountain. Giggling, they lay on the white surface and traced designs with their tails.

"This is gorgeous," Cookies said, thrusting his head into the bushes. "So lush and green!"

"Is this the cold rivers with clay from the glaciers?" Hairy asked, staring down at the straight grey stream. "It's got so many pebbles!"

"It's ok," Pumble grumbled. He was still sore over missing out on a honey hamburger. "Isn't it supposed to be cold? It's hot out here."

"Well, I think it's wonderful," Hairy said. He took a deep breath of the warm, humid air. "I'm sure we just came during a heat spell." He snuck a look over at Miss Moose McKinley. Her eyes were wide and her mouth gaped open. She looked at the snowy hill and bushes, just shaking her head.

"Where are the moose at?" Cookies pondered, sticking his head in another bush. "All I see are spiders."

The seals squealed and jumped up, dancing on the surface of the snowy mountain.

"Snow can't be hot," Pumble argued, giving them a long suffering sigh. "You've probably got frostbite on your back or something."

"I'm sure we'll find some moose or bears soon," Hairy said confidently, fanning himself as sweat ran down his back. "We just need to"--

"This isn't Alaska!" Miss Moose McKinley cried. She buried her hands in her hooves. "That's not a snowy mountain, it's a driveway. Those bushes are just common shrubs. And you won't find any moose because there's a cactus in the yard with no water nearby! This isn't Alaska. Not even a case of global warming could make it this hot! It's a suburb in the desert!" She burst into tears, her shoulders heaving with sobs. "I'll never get back home!" Wailing at the top of her lungs, she turned and ran through the door. Her hooves clattered as she ran across the brown tile. Pumble sniffed and glared at Hairy.

"I did all this for a non-existent hamburger, and this isn't Alaska?" he said in disbelief. "You better pray someone set up a hamburger stand when we get home. I'm starving."

Sighing, Hairy cast one more look around the North. The sun beat down on his head and he could fill the sweat running beneath his fur.

"Goodbye, Alaska," he whispered. He gathered the seals and pulled Cookies out of the bush. For the rest of the day, they walked home.

There was no hamburger stand, but there was a small butterfly selling honey gumdrops in the hallway. Pumble was reasonably satisfied when he waddled into the Land of the Flowered Bed with the seals, Hairy and Cookies trailing behind him. Though he was prepared to whine, one look at her face stopped him. Cookies started toward them, but Hairy put a hand on his chest. They stood with the seals, watching silently.

Setting his bag gently on the ground, Pumble plopped next to her and offered her a cookie. Miss Moose McKinley shook her head. Taking a bite, Pumble chewed and spewed crumbs as he spoke.

"You can still find Alaska, you know."

"On the television?" Her eyes looked glazed, as if she had cried for so long all the shininess had worn off. "It's not the same."

Pumble shook his head. "No it's not. But you can still go there, if you try."

"You mean on a plane?" Her voice was glum. "I'd have to find someone to take me to the airport, then find my way on a plane, then find someone to get me off a plane. And who's going to believe a talking moose?"

"All you got to do is close your eyes," Pumble said, pulling another cookie out of his bag and tearing off a chunk. "Close your eyes and think about the trees, the cold grey water, your moose friends."

"Use my imagination?" Miss Moose McKinley said with a snort. "It's hardly the same."

"I never said to do that," Pumble said, digging another cookie out of his bag. "I just wanted you to dream." Miss Moose McKinley stared up at him as he got to his feet, his enormous belly swaying from side to side.

"Even if you were to get on a plane and fly home, it wouldn't be the same," Pumble said, popping the last bit of cookie in his mouth. "People would be gone, businesses would change and things would be different. The only way to ever stay the same is to visit in your dreams."

The moose smiled up at him. "Thanks," she whispered. She gazed off into the distance, a smile spreading over her face as if she was already dreaming. "I guess until I return, this will do for now." Pumble smiled and scurried off to his kitchen, dragging his sack of goodies behind him.

Cookies nudged Hairy. "Did I just see what I thought I saw?" he asked. "Was Pumble actually nice to someone? He didn't snarl, didn't put up a fuss...he even offered her part of his cookie!"

Hairy turned to him with a grin. "I can dream, can't I?"

That night, as the animals curled up for bed, only one thing was on their minds. As they lay down to sleep, their minds thought of the lush green forests, the steep white mountains and the cold grey river.

After all, they could see the land in their dreams.