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Archive for August 10th, 2009

When i moved into my little country cabin, out on Avery Creek Rd. in Arden, I was told that there had been a number of bear sightings on this property over the years – the most recent about two weeks before i moved in.  But there have been no sightings in the 11 months i have lived here.  I have eagerly awaited my first.  The last two nights i almost got it.

But i slept through both bear visitations!  Tom, my neighbor – 40 yards out my back door – has seen them both nights.  But the bears were on his deck, knocking over the garbage can in which he keeps his bird seed.  Each night they woke him up right around 1:30 in the morning.  Each night i had gone to bed about 1 a.m. and slept through all the excitement.

Before you lay some judgments on Tom for keeping his bird seed out on the deck, you’ve got to realize that Tom loves having bears come to visit.  Even after many such visits over about ten years, he still finds it thrilling to see these magnificent creatures so close up – and kind of magical to live in a location where they do come to visit.

So yesterday morning Tom hustled down to my place, all tingly excitement, to say that i had better keep Buddy – who almost always, on these warm nights, wants to sleep outside – inside tonight.  And then he showed me his two pictures of the bear that had come to visit the previous evening.  The photos were dark, but the shape of the bear was unmistakable.  I agreed that keeping my dog inside that night was a good idea.

When i have told people that our little property has had bear visits over the years, they have often asked if i didn’t worry for Buddy’s safety.  My standard answer has been that i feel pretty sure that Buddy would give a bear a wide berth.  That got confirmed last night.

About 8:30 p.m., when there was just a little bit of waning light, Buddy and Tom’s hound dog Lucy charged off from my backyard where i had been visiting with them towards the little strip of woods behind Tom’s house, barking their heads off.  I heard the sudden low, resonant grumble – and they heard it more close-up.  They each – my timid-tending Buddy and Tom’s reckless-tending Lucy – ran like hell back to their respective houses, only wanting to get inside.

Well, it was quite the bear watch last night – me periodically stepping out onto my back stoop to train my powerful mag flashight towards those woods and Tom aiming his newly-recharged super-lantern out his kitchen window, with his son Corey’s sophisticated digital camera at the ready.

About 9:30, Tom called me to say that he saw the bear, just up out of the woods and down a little slope behind his house – down where i had no angle to see him.  If i had walked a little further back in the yard, I could have had the right angle.  I considered this for about a microsecond.

On one of my checks outside, my flashlight – peering through the bushes on the side of my doorway – threw big shadows out in the yard.  I jumped about a foot.  Tom called later to say that, although it was garbage night, he had no plans to roll his big garbage can down to my house, where i weekly load in my garbage and then roll the big plastic container down to the road.

By about 11:45, i decided that the bear was gone for the night.  Buddy was wanting to go back out, which i took as confirmation that there were no bears around.  So i took Buddy for our usual walk down the driveway (away from Tom’s house) and then up the other fork in the drive toward Hal’s house way up the hill.

After our 15-minute walk, i decided to give Buddy a little more time outside before bringing him in for the night.  So we sat out in the backyard in the bright moonlight, having our usual late-night cuddle fest.  We came in the house about 12:30.  Then, about 1:30 a.m., the bear came back – back up on Tom’s deck, about thirty yards from where Buddy and i had an hour ago been sitting.   This morning Tom had a couple of pretty good-quality photos of the mama bear – and two cubs!

Bears (aug 11,09) 012Bears (aug 11,09) 011

Bears (aug 11,09) 010

Tom said that the cubs were so cute and their coat such a rich black that he wished he could just reach out and pet them, which he did not consider.

Once again, i had gone to bed about one o’clock and slept through the whole thing.  Tom told me earlier today that, if he has another sighting tonight, he’ll call me.  I’ll keep my phone close to the bed, but I’m so excited at just about midnight that i probably will still be up.  If there’s no action by about 2 a.m., I’ll probably give up and go to bed.

Bears!  Even if all i get was to hear her, it was a pretty amazing sound – and pretty wonder-full to live somewhere that bears come to visit.  We’re not in Chicago anymore.

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