Un Oso y un Amor (A Bear and a Love) escritó por (written by) Sabine R. Ulibarrí de Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico

It was the end of June. The lambs had already been born earlier that spring and the sheep were sheared. The cattle was making its way up the mountain. Abrán was directing them. I followed alongside the donkeys, which were loaded with supplies. From now on life would be slow and tranquil. I found a fitting spot. I unloaded the donkeys and pitched the tent. I cut branches for the beds. I began to prepare a meal for when Abrán would return. Already the first flock of sheep was arriving. Sometimes I would get up to stop them, to redirect them, so they could get to know their first campsite. The grass was tall, fresh, and lush. The aspens, black and white, with shaking leaves, sang a trembling song of life and happiness. The fragrances and the flowers. The icy, crystalline water of the stream. Everything was in peace and harmony. This is why the Gods themselves chose to live in the mountains. The range is an eternal celebration.

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The Banquet Soon I heard familiar laughter and voices. I gave a shout. These were my friends from Tierra Amarilla, the Yellow Land. Abelito Sanchez, accompanied by Clorinda Chávez and Shirley Cantel. The four of us were in ninth grade. We were fifeen years old. We unsaddled and staked out our horses. Momentarily, we began enjoying ourselves. There was so much to say. Questions. Jokes. So much laughter to resume. Now I shudder to remember it. How beautiful was that moment! We were young. We knew how to love and how to sing. Without alcohol, without drugs, without uncouth vulgarities. When Abrán arrived, we ate. I had a tasty, delicious-smelling side of lamb, roasted on the coals. They had brought delicasies that we were not accustomed to in the range. The joy and good food, the joy of friendship and the idealic location transformed this experience into a feast to remember forever.

Shirley Shirley Cantel and I had grown up together. We went to school together since we were children. I carried her books. Later we could bring the cows in together in the afternoons. We played in the stables or in the haystacks. We had horse races. In the school plays she and I always had the important roles. We would always compete for the best grades. It never occured to us that we were in love. This past year, we discovered our affection, I don"t know how. Now things were getting serious. I see it now like an illusion of glory. Shirley had a white dove which attracted a lot of attention. She always took it along while horseriding. The dove perched on her shoulder or positioned itself in the mane or on the rump of the horse. It grew to know me and love me as well. Sometimes the dove would come with me. It would fly away and come back. The dove was another bridge of sentimentality between us two. Today it recognized me. Right away it positioned itself on my shoulder. Its sensual "crucru" in my ear was a message of love from its owner. Shirley was a gringa but she spoke spanish as well as I did. This was normal in Tierra Amarilla. Almost all of the gringos from here spoke spanish. We were one single society. We got along very well.

The Bear Jokes and annecdotes. Laughter and more laughter. Fleeting flirtations. Loaded questions. Unexpected replies. The celebration in its height.

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Suddenly, the cattle is frightened. It whips from one side to the other. It comes towards us, as if in waves. Bleats of terror. Something has frightened the cattle. I grab the rifle. I say to Shirley: "Come with me." We hold hands. Coming around the bush, we find a bear. He has drowned a sheep and ripped open the entrails. He has a bloody snout. We are very near him. Ordinarily, a bear would flee upon meeting a human. There are exceptions: when there are cubs, when it is hurt, when it has tasted blood. Then it becomes fierce. Even a dog beccomes fierce when eating. This was a young bear, maybe two or three years old. These are the most daring and dangerous. We interrupted him while he was eating. He was enfuriated. He came at us. The others had approached and were nearby. They were watching the action. The bear circled us slowly. He stopped, shook his head and growled. We backed up slowly until we bumped against a fallen tree. There was no espace. We had to confront the animal. Nobody did anything to help me. Nobody said anything. The girls were silent. There was no hysteria. I was dying of fear. But my girlfriend was at my side. Her life depended on me. The others were watching me. I had never felt as much a master as I did now. Never so much a man, never so capable. My first instinct was to protect my woman. She and every other girl had confidence in me. I raised the rifle. I aimed, firmly. I fired. The shot entered through the bear"s open mouth and came out at the back of the neck. The shot echoed through the mountain range. The bear fell dead at our feet. Shirley hugged me. I wanted to die of happiness. I skinned the animal myself. I felt the hot blood on my hands and my elbows. I felt like a conqueror. Once I had given Shirley a ring that my mother had given me. Another time, I gave her a box of candies. This time I gave her the skin of the bear. She recognized it immediately. When she left, she took the skin with her, tied to the straps of her saddle.

Memories Years passed. I went to one university, she went to another. This seperated us. Then I left for the war and this seperated us even more. When a river divides in two, nothing can join those two rivers back together. I did not go to see her in those days. Sometimes somebody would tell me something about her. She had married, and her family lived very far from here. I remember with affection the childhood that I shared with her. Recently, an old friend told me that he had seen when she lives and that he knows her family. He said that in front of the fireplace, she has the skin of a bear. She still remembers.