What happens when we overcomplicate things instead of simply living in the moment? Miriam Körner, who lives in a small cabin in Northern Saskatchewan surrounded by a vanishing old-growth forest, examines the idea of being happy with what you have and the consequences of muddling up the natural order of things.
For Fox and Bear, life was bliss. Each day, they ventured into the forest, hunting for food and treasure. In the evenings, Bear watched the sunset while Fox buried his finds. Then one day, Fox suggests a plan that would make them more productive and efficient and allow them more time to enjoy the things they loved. As the idea is put into motion, it creates more work. After catching the bugs to feed the birds, fixing cages, and collecting eggs, there’s hardly any time left to indulge in what they love.
So Fox comes up with yet another idea to automate production. This chain of events complicates life in unexpected ways, and the imagery depicting the progress is jarring. Created out of recycled-paper cutouts and cardboard dioramas, the visuals reveal a dramatic shift in the natural harmony of the forest. Steam engines pollute the air and the land becomes stark and barren as trees are cut down and mountains are dug up.
Fox and Bear brilliantly juxtaposes the trade-off between a life that’s rich thanks to the simplicity of pastoral existence and one made materially rich by efficiency and accumulation. Themes of sustainability and living in harmony with our natural resources in a circular economy are at play in the story.
The book applauds thinking for ourselves and standing up for our convictions. What an inspiring moment it is when Bear finally decides what he really wants is a simple life. At its core, Fox and Bear reminds us to be happy with what we have.