… he followed the bear’s trail to … a dense stand of mountain laurel.
The mountain laurel is blooming in the woods, putting out scads of white and pale pink flowers.
In Ogin, a ritual hunt ends at a place where the mountain laurel is tall and wide enough for a bear to hide in. None of the mountain laurel bushes I have seen in Ravenswood are anything like that big, but during this time of flower-clusters there is a lot more to them.
The open flower like a candy umbrella or cosmic bug;
the yet-to-open flower like a squeeze from the cake decorator’s gun.
But no simile is a match for the thing itself.
Coincidentally, I’m reading another fantasy involving a bear-based ritual: Margo Lanagan’s Tender Morsels. The writing truly amazes me; even what is ugly is made beautiful (and there is a lot that is ugly). I’m also intent on the way it deals with borders between worlds—serious in the best sense of the word.