Sunday, March 6, 2011

The journey of Nelson the bear

This is not an art lesson post, nor a post on the state of education. It's just a little story about the bear that came home to stay.

It starts like this: last summer my son Ben spent 8 weeks in South Africa participating in a college internship program called "Entreprenuership and Empowerment in South Africa" at Stellenbosch University, near Capetown. When the program was over he stayed 2 more weeks in the country. For his 1st week he took a backpacker's bus and traveled the "Garden Route", sightseeing, hanging out on gorgeous beaches, and bungee jumping (I blogged about all this last summer). He spent his last week with relatives he'd never met before: my husband's nephew and his family, who live near Johannesburg. The relatives treated him to an unforgettable safari experience and his whole South African adventure was great.
Here's Ben (and a momma leopard) on safari:
But back to the little bear:
When Ben got home, he carefully selected gifts to send to his South African family, to thank them for their hospitality and the gift of the safari. First, a jug of locally made real maple syrup (yes, NY does it as well as Vermont!). Then, a book of photos by the talented local Adirondack nature photographer Carl Heilman. And finally, a little stuffed Adirondack black bear for the baby.
But sadly the package didn't arrive, and the relatives never received their gift. We tried to trace it, and finally, about a month ago we filed a claim on the insured package.
Friday my husband informed me a package had arrived on our doorstep while I was at work. It was beaten and battered and taped together and was barely recognizeable after 7 months. It had traveled to Africa and back to our return address! (I wanted to include a photo of it here, but my husband took it to the dump and I never shot the picture.) Anyhow, inside was the leaking bottle of syrup, the book with all the pages totally glued together by the syrup, and amazingly, a resilient and clean little stuffed bear, who has wakened from his long hibernation, untouched by the leaking goo. I'ved told my husband that I don't think he should ever have to travel again, so he's going to stay here with me. We've named him Nelson after Nelson Mandela.
That's Nelson frolicking on my couch pillow!


  1. Poor Nelson has travelled too much already. Nice of you to adopt him :)

  2. What a great story! I love these little stories it is amazing how things get lost and reappear. :)

  3. Sounds like the kernel of a great children's book!!

  4. Great idea - maybe in another year and 1/2 after retirement?