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Julie North
Oct 27, 2011

Sleeping Bear

Sometimes Autumn is a difficult time of year for me not because anything major happened but I have surmised it’s because things end. Summer is over, the warmth is gone out of the air and the trees become bare and almost haunting. In some parts of Michigan winter can be hard especially if you live downwind from one of the Great Lakes. Winter brings bleak skies and a time of retreat. But in Michigan when spring comes and friendly faces appear whole and not hid behind scarves people have a sense of survival an almost “Yeah we did it, we made it out of the bleak and into the light and warmth.” Here is a story you can tell your clients about survival, faithfulness and trying their best. The story is about three bears. I have mixed the versions from the Chippewa Indians and the Anishinaabek Indians. The accounts were so similar in the literature.

“Long ago along the Wisconsin shoreline, a mother bear and her two cubs were driven into Lake Michigan by a raging forest fire. The bears swam for many hours, but eventually the cubs tired and lagged behind. Mother bear reached the shore and climbed to the top of a high bluff to watch and wait for her cubs. Too tired to continue, the cubs drowned within the sight of the shore. The Great Spirit Manitou (man-ih-too) created two islands to mark the spot where the cubs disappeared and then created a solitary dune to represent the faithful mother bear. “

We saw these Dunes on a family vacation. They are incredible. The Dune is estimated to be about 2000 years old. It was used as a landmark by the Chippewa Indians. You can climb the dune and see for miles. You can also take a boat to North and South Manitou Islands the “baby bears”.

What I find inspiring about this story is the mother never lost faith her children would come. She never quit looking for them. Even more incredible is the baby bears kept swimming and trying to get to their mother. They never quit wanting to be with her. That reminds me of several of my families-how about you? Does it remind you of anybody?

Julie North is an in home family counselor in a rural county in South-Central Michigan. She has a private practice and is currently being trained in TF-CBT and complex trauma therapies.

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