Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane, co-author Rainy Day Thought, where they write about ideas and creativity. Diane posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments, relating to the topic, are welcome as it turns an article into a discussion, but must be in English and not include profanity or threats.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

he's a bear-shifter-- who knew!

My writing has been broken up by life-- which has a way of happening. I am trying to get back into it as the characters take on more flesh. I learn things about them that I might've felt but did not know in the beginning-- which has a way of happening. In the case of my hero for Something Waits, I did not originally know he was a bear-shifter. It came to me as I recognized the conflicts he faced coming from two ethnicities-- adding to it the family secrets which must not be spoken.

Below is a snippet of one aspect of his life that has impacted who he is in ways most of us will never experience or believe because we know what the 'real' world is... Because this is part of a raw first draft, it might be different in the book-- editing has a way of doing that.


Marsh ground his teeth. He felt the kind of anger that never led to good. “I’ll talk to you later,” he said to Jericho, leaving the room and managing to not slam the door. 

His hotel sat on the edge of the Catalinas with desert around it. Perfect for what he needed. Soon, he’d gone far enough from the buildings to strip out of his clothing and let it happen. The cells in his body transformed their energy and within moments, the process was complete—he no longer appeared as a human but had taken on the form of a large bear. He lunged forward, not needing moonlight to see his way now that he had a bear's vision and senses. The width of the trail was perfect for him to gallop up the trail—his speed increasing the higher he got. Dark as it was, he didn't expect to run into humans on the trail. If he did, he'd know enough ahead to go off trail and wait out their passing.

Taking on an animal's form had given him no comfort the first time it’d happened. He’d been ready to graduate from high school, angry at something that he no longer even recalled. That day, with no warning, he'd felt his body morph into that of an animal. He had been fortunate he’d been up on Mt. Lemmon when it happened, hiking, thinking, and trying to work out his future. Being a bear had not been part of it. In confusion and panic, he’d stayed where he was and waited for whatever had happened to go away. Finally, it had. His clothing had been torn, but he’d put on what he could and driven back down the mountain to try and understand.

Being half Navajo, Marsh had heard the stories of skinwalkers, humans who turned animals. Some of them had become bears. Skinwalkers were always evil, seeking power from unholy sources. He had not sought power—other than having allowed his anger build to an unhealthy level.

The years since found him researching other ways such transformations could happen. Except in the Navajo world, it was always an inborn quality—inherited mostly. Who in his family had been a bear-shifter? He was unwilling to ask, to trust anyone enough to reveal his own secret. He could only try and control it.

It had taken years for him to recognize he could use it. It was empowering in a strange sort of way to leave the world of humans and become one with nature, where the scents and sights were so different. Now he used it when he needed to let off energy, when he couldn’t think through what was happening in his human world.

He ran for what might’ve been hours. He had to leave time to get back before light. He wanted to be on the mountain. When he reached the first pines, he sat under them and let their energy flow into him. A rabbit approached and then hopped away when it saw him. He could have killed and eaten it, but he’d never developed a taste for raw meat—even as a bear. 

Bats flew overhead, in the distance he heard an owl. Night creatures, as was he at least for the moment. Was he also evil as his mother’s people would claim? He couldn’t ask his mother. She’d died when he was only thirteen. He knew  Grandmother Ali having spent summers helping her with her sheep, learning Navajo ways.

During the school year, he’d lived with his father’s mother in Tucson—where he’d met the love of his life. Something he had eventually run from until he no longer could run and had to return.

He hadn’t expected her to greet him with open arms. She didn’t understand what had motivated him to leave. He had been unable to tell her then or maybe ever. How could she understand what he didn't.

In 1993, we had made our third trip to Montana. In a gallery, I saw this painting, met the artist, Larry Knutson, and photographed a couple of his paintings. I'd have loved to have afforded the work, but the budget wasn't stretching that far.

When I knew I was going to have a bear-shifter in my next book, I tried to find where I had the photograph. At that point, I didn't even remember the year. I went through many albums and finally there it was. I believe it says something about this idea of shifting into another shape-- even if in a fantasy way. 

In looking online to see what he might be doing, this is the only site that had his work-- Art at the Park. There was a quote by him that I liked.
"we all have an animal spirit that we associate with in some way... It should not be kept outside of ourselves."


Dick said...

Interesting. I came here from FB. I have always been interested in the Navaho and the ancient Indian cultures of Arizona. Wish I could still Snowbird down there.

Rain Trueax said...

It is fascinating.