Over a period of several years, we spent a number of holidays staying in a small bed and breakfast on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. It was an idyllic spot, run by a lovely Canadian couple and their two (later three) friendly wolfhounds. We stayed in a cedar log-cabin, built and furnished in traditional style, and each morning we were treated to wonderful breakfasts that all seemed to include bacon and egg and peaches and maple syrup, as well as many other delicious ingredients. Each day, we’d go out for a walk, and when we returned the cabin would have been tidied, and Bear and Bison, the two (stuffed) residents, would be perched somewhere new – this time on the mantelpiece, that time on our bed, the next time waiting by the door of the fridge – ready for our return.
We weren’t the only ones who thought that it was a blissful place. The visitors’ book was full of lengthy messages of thanks, containing tales of how this couple had met there, and that couple had fallen in love there, and how he had proposed to her there (and she had said yes), of how they had had their honeymoon there, or had returned for their tenth or twentieth or ruby or silver or golden wedding anniversary.
To offer something different, I wrote a short story about Bear and Bison during each visit, and left it in the visitors’ book. Some of the stories can be found at the links below.
The story of the lodge, though, has a sadder ending, for a few years later it closed . . .
Splish, splash, splish, splash went the paddles rhythmically, as Bear and Bison dipped them into the water in unison.
Splish, clunk, splosh, splash, spiddleclunk they went as yet again the two canoists lost their stroke and tangled their paddles together.
“We’re getting quite expert at this, don’t you think?” said Bear, first from upstream and then from downstream, as the confused canoe rotated gently in a small whirlpool of its own making. “Who said that bisons can’t paddle?”
“You did,” said Bison.
“Atchoooo!” said Bear, and all the crockery and ornaments in the little cedar-wood lodge where they lived shook.
“Bless you,” said Bison, for the twenty-ninth time in the last half-hour.
“Thang doo,” said Bear, through his bunged up nose.
“Don’t mention it,” said Bison, for the twenty-ninth time.
They were silent. On the mantelpiece the clock ticked slowly, as though it, too, was very, very bored and would soon drop off to sleep.
Bear and Bison’s Christmas
Outside, the land waited in silence. It had stopped snowing now – except for the last few flakes that had hesitated doubtfully on the edge of the clouds when all the others jumped off, and then dawdled as they came down, and were now floating slowly, looking for somewhere interesting to settle. Above them, the clouds had started to break up and move away, their job for the evening done. Moonlight fingered between them, and threw black tree shadows across the silver ground. The trees themselves were still, bowed by their burden of snow. On one of them, unseen in the dark crevice of its perch, the old morpork owl surveyed the scene unblinkingly, waiting for the slightest movement that might betoken a careless or over-adventurous mouse – and a tasty addition to Christmas dinner. But there were none to be seen. Deep in their warm nests in the moss and leaves beneath the snow, the mice lay warm and huddled and safe.
Beside the unlit fire, inside Cedar Lodge, Bear leaned back in his chair and sighed contentedly . . .