Phil Crowther and the Rapidly Growing Blackberry Bushes

July 6, 2008

Phil Crowther lived in a small house with a big back porch that hung high above the back yard.

One morning Phil and his friend Bear were playing on the porch. Phil tried to look down at the yard, but he couldn’t see anything over the porch fence except for a few really tall blackberry bushes.

“Bear,” Phil said, “I want to know what’s down there! If I throw you over the porch fence, will you explore the yard and then come back and tell me about it?”

“I guess so,” said Bear thoughtfully. “Good!” said Phil. He grabbed Bear and threw him off of the porch.

A second later, there was a strange howling sound from below. “I hope Bear is OK,” thought Phil.

Phil waited and waited for Bear to return. Finally, at the end of the afternoon, Bear appeared. His fur had caught on the thorns of a blackberry bush, and the rapidly growing bush had lifted him up to the porch.

Phil pulled Bear out of the bush and onto the porch. “How was your day, Bear?” he asked.

“Oh, it was bearable,” said Bear. “There are lots of blackberry bushes down there, and their thorns are very sharp. But the berries are tasty, and I got a nice view of the neighborhood as I was being lifted up to the porch. Also, I found an old toy of yours,” he added, holding up a fire truck that hadn’t been seen in weeks.

“Wow — that sounds fun!” Phil exclaimed. “Tomorrow you should throw me down into the yard!”

Bear did not think this was a good idea, but Phil had made up his mind. The next morning, Bear launched him over the fence just as he had requested.

Phil landed on an especially thorny bush. “Oooowwww!” he howled. “That hurt!”

As Phil looked around, he saw several toys that had been missing for some time. There was a soccer ball, a xylophone, a giraffe, and many other colorful objects. He tried to grab them, but they were all out of reach — he was stuck in the bush! There was nothing he could do but wait for the bush to lift him back up to the porch.

“At least there are plenty of berries on this bush for me to eat,” Phil thought. But whenever he tried to pick a berry, he was pricked by a thorn.

Then it began to rain, and Phil became wet and cold. The rain was so thick that, even as he was lifted into the air, he couldn’t see anything beyond his own yard.

By the end of the afternoon, Phil’s bush had grown high enough for Bear to pull him onto the porch.

“How was your day?” asked Bear. “It was miserable!” Phil sputtered. “I’m cold and wet and hungry, and I have scratches all over my body!”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” said Bear. “Tomorrow we can just play on the porch as we usually do,” he added wisely.

“No!” said Phil. “We must go back to the yard! All of my missing toys are down there! We have to rescue them!”

Bear did not think this was a good idea, but Phil had made up his mind. The next morning, Phil threw Bear over the fence. Then he climbed onto the fence and jumped off.

He landed on top of something large and furry. “Oooowwww!” howled the something. It was Bear.

“Sorry, Bear,” said Phil. “Was your landing OK?” “It was bearable,” said Bear.

Phil and Bear got up from the ground and started collecting Phil’s toys. Before long they had found an airplane, a jack-in-the-box, a puzzle, and many other colorful objects. They put each toy in a large bag they had brought with them. Then they climbed onto a bush that would lift them back up to the porch.

Phil was hungry, so Bear picked some berries from their bush for them to eat. “Are the thorns hurting you?” asked Phil. “They’re bearable,” said Bear with a sigh.

Soon after they ate the berries, it began to rain. Phil crawled into the bag of toys to stay warm and dry. Bear held onto the bag so that it didn’t fall out of the bush.

“How’s the rain out there?” Phil asked from inside the bag. Bear was silent for a moment. “It’s bearable,” he said finally.

By the end of the afternoon, the bush had lifted Phil and Bear up to the porch. Phil’s mother was there waiting for them.

“I’ve been worried about you two!” she said as she pulled them out of the bush. “Did you have a good day?”

“It was bearable,” Phil said cheerfully. “The blackberry bushes gave us some scratches, but we got all of my toys back! Right, Bear?”

Bear nodded slowly. “Yes, it was bearable,” he said in a soft, weary voice. “Barely.”


  1. Brillant, barely. Best thing I have read in days.

  2. A very bearable story! Just wondering what kind of crazy parents let their son and talking bear play on the porch all day, unsupervised? Bear sounds like a competent babysitter and compadre, so I guess this is ok. This story almost sounds like fiction, if I lived anywhere but the NW!

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