Last week, I went to New York to visit my Mom. Not NYC, Mom is privileged to have a summer cabin on one of the lakes in the Adirondacks. She has two interesting neighbors, one of whom is one of my most respected friends and mentors, but that is a story for another time.

When my wife and I arrived at the camp, it was late, about 2AM, because, well, it is in the middle of nowhere. We snuck in and went to sleep. The next morning, I was walking around the house and I noticed something odd on the floor; I couldn’t really identify it, and it was an irregular shape; I vaguely recall picking it up and throwing it into the lake.

One of my brothers was also there, along with his son and son’s family. They have a one-year old daughter who is just the cutest… and as they will, she was crawling around on the floor in the main room.

Some many years ago, Mom had a moose head, and a Jackalope, and other interesting critters mounted here and there in the cabin. The moose head was evicted a few years ago, and something ate all the fur off the jackalope and so it was also discarded. But one of the things I like most is that she has a bearskin rug, complete with head. I always wanted one, I suppose because of all the cartoons I watched where people ended up wearing the rug and sort of turning into a bear.

Now, Mom is in her mid 80’s, and not as sharp as she once was, and has some short term memory loss. Sometimes the situations and conversations border on the silly. This was one of those times…

“Patrick!!!! See that bear? Someone STOLE the tongue out of it!!!”

I had no idea what she was talking about.

“The tongue?”

“YES!!! Someone STOLE the tongue. I bet it was Molly!” (The one year old)

“Um, I don’t remember seeing it” (I had not connected that the thing I found on the floor and threw in the lake might have been the tongue)

“Well I just bet she got it out and it is under one of the couches or something. Or someone TOOK it.”

“What would someone want, with, umm, a bear tongue?”

This sort of conversation happened several times a day, for several days. After about the 3rd day, the rusty synapses in my mind sort of remembered that I had thrown something away when I arrived, and that it might have been, well, a tongue. Out of context, what does a bear tongue really look like, anyway? And, what could you use one for? Licking big stamps?

So I did what I often do, when challenged, I used the universal cop-out and googled “bear tongues”, and then “bear tongue taxidermy”. Did you know you can buy tongues for black bears, brown bears, and grizzly bears, and that they come in small, medium, and large?

I suppose the most interesting thing is that you can buy a bear tongue for around eight bucks, and they show up in a few days, Apparently the usual installation techniques involve the use of staples and glue.

Mom got the new tongue, and put it in the bear’s mouth, and she says it has changed the bear’s personality somewhat. (It is another mystery how she knows what the personality was, and how she knows what it is now…. long bear conversations in the night?)

So next time you visit your parents during the summer, and find an oddly shaped plastic thingy on the floor, don’t throw it in the lake! It might be a stolen bear tongue!