When the Legends Die

by Hal Borland

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How does Tom occupy his time?

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You could be talking about when Tom lives in the wilderness with his parents, or after both of his parents die. I'll give you both as they are very similar in some ways.

Tom's parents teach him the Ute ways of how to survive in the wilderness. He learns how to hunt and fish and stay warm in the winter. He also learns how to store food for the winter as well. They build a lodge that will be warmer in the winter and that isn't visible to anyone who should try to find them. They also teach him the stories, songs, and chants of his ancestors.

When his father dies, Tom becomes the man of the family and performs all the chores that his father did. So he does much of the hunting and fishing and helps his mother with surviving in the wilderness. His mother teaches him to weave baskets to sell for supplies.

Once his mother dies, Tom has all the skills to survive, but he's very lonely. He makes friends with a female bear and her two cubs, watching them play. He also becomes friends with the squirrels, chipmunks, and the bluejays. He talks to them much as he would to human friends and tells them about himself and his life. When a hunter kills the mother bear and one cub, Tom finds him and takes him back to his lodge. The two of them become brothers and friends, and Tom is less alone.

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