While sitting in our tiny garden folly the other day, being scrutinized by the watchcat and other fey creatures I painted on its walls many years ago, my eyes fell on Grusha, and I was reminded again

why I had  painted him and his bicycle.

I read a story about the Russian trained circus bears, who could do all sorts of tricks , and about one in particular whom they named “Grusha”.  I began humanizing hm, and thought of the troubled life he led, caged in the city where hundreds of children came to see him and his companion bears entertain the crowds.

Far from his home in Siberia, he was taught to ride a bicycle.  He rode round and round the circus ring several times a day, and then repeated the feat six days a week.  A pretty boring life compared to roaming in the woods.  Lonely away from family and friends I thought.

One day he escaped on his bicycle.  Simply rode past the guard when no one was looking, out the front gate, and began his long journey back to his home.

I would like to say he made good his escape, but like so many other prisoners, he was recaptured and returned to the Russian circus.  Too bad for Grusha.

But here he is with his sad little yellow eyes, living in my little garden house, and riding through an apple orchard somewhere in Northern California.   He gives me joy whenever I see him.

His clever cycling is intently surveyed by a roomful of other fey animals and birds who wish him well.





Guarding Mouse Hole