2004/11/01

Five And Counting

You'd think I was obsessed with bears, I write about them so much.

Oct 22, 2004: I walk to the Esso at 2:30 AM to buy a pack of cigarettes. The gas station is about 15 minutes away by foot, and I love walking alone in the middle of the night because it's so peaceful. It's very, very foggy out and I can't see further than 30 feet, and the fog muffles what little noise there is in town. It's like holding your ears under water in the tub. Just "shhhhhhhhhhh." I get to the Esso, do my thing and turn back toward home. The road runs along a small forest preserve with a trail that pops out at the road's edge. I'm fifteen feet away from the trail when I hear a branch snap. Looking up, I see a bear lumber out of the woods. He spots me and we both freeze, looking each other over. I avert my gaze, not wanting to threaten it. Then I start talking to it. "Howdy bear. I'm not a salmon. I'm not a big ripe apple, either. See? I've got arms." I wave my arms. "I'll just go on about my business and you go on over to wherever you were headed, and we'll just pretend we never met. I won't kiss and tell, I swear." Meanwhile, I'm slowly backing up toward a parked car, hoping to be able to roll under it if the thing decides I look like a threat. He groans at me and shuffles off across the street. I just stand there for a bit watching until he disappears into the fog. Then I go home.

Oct 24, 2004: Jr. came home from college for our daughter's 12th birthday. Tonight at dusk I'm driving him back to Nanaimo. We just get on the highway, I've not even accelerated to cruising speed yet, when a big black bear lumbers slowly into the middle of my lane. I slowed down to let him cross. The timing was right and there was no other traffic.

Oct 26, 2004: In this town you're allowed two bags of garbage a week. If you're making more than that, you have to pay extra to get it hauled away. Anyway, it's the day after garbage pick-up, so the can is empty. But it still smells like food. And cat shit. We'd just finished cleaning the litter boxes. I wake up in the morning and step outside for some air. I notice the garbage can has been knocked over. The lid is about ten feet away from the can, and it's got claw punctures in it. I know a bear did it because that plastic is tough! No normal dog could bite through the lid. Poor bear. The pizza smell from a day earlier attracted him, but all he got for his trouble was a Safeway bag full of dirty cat litter.

Oct 30, 2004: It's the day before Halloween and the local pot grower... oops! The local party guy is holding his annual outdoor bash 1 1/2 blocks from where we live. I don't go to his parties. He's an asshole. Anyway, I step outside for a smoke at about 10:00 PM and see yet another bear crossing the intersection toward his place. This one is about 150 feet from me and walking away. But there are bright lights and loud music emanating from this guy's yard, so I'm confused about why Mr. Bear would be heading toward the place rather than away from there. It's unnatural, so I'm even warier about this bear than the last. If some fool tosses a firecracker or cranks up the stereo, that bear will turn tail and run toward me. That's a scary thought. I watch closely until I'm done my cigarette, then head back inside.

Nov 01, 2004: Scott, our dog, is just a little guy, so he doesn't need much of a dog pen. Just some 2x4s pounded into the ground with stucco wire stapled to them to act as a barrier. He can't get through that for the short time we let him out there to do his business. Unfortunately, such a lightweight fence is invisible in the dark. You can see the posts, but you can't see the wire. The only way you'd notice it is if you were, say... a bear trying to get from the front yard to the back yard via that side of the house. Then you'd lumber right into it and just keep pushing until it registered in your brain that you weren't getting as far as you should be getting for the effort you've expended. So you'd give up and just gnaw on a pumpkin in the front yard instead. The guy who built the fence would discover the bent-over 2x4s and stretched and bowed-in stucco wire fence the next morning when he got up to take the dog out.

That's five personal encounters in less than ten days. Youngest Boy has seen one so far, and Mrs. G met one on the road a few weeks ago. So, seven for the family.

Last year we had two bear encounters between October and March.

Something tells me it's going to be an unusual winter.
Comments:
"...I won't kiss and tell, I swear..."

You lied to a bear.
 
Your bear stories rock.
 
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