My dog and I shared a moment this evening. I heard him pacing between the three windows that have a view of the front porch. Occasionally, he would yelp and growl. I went to observe what had him riled. There was nothing to see in the front; the daffodils waved in the breeze, the brick walk and hill were empty. The reason I was so alert to his behavior was because, at this time last night, in the exact same spot, there was a fairly large black bear. He was a happy bear. I raced to get my camera, lock the dog out of view, and stood, braced, against the window and the television set in my office. I shoot close to three hundred photos of the black bear over the next half an hour. After he left the picnic, I went through the images, deleted half, then loaded those onto my computer. Simply because he has loosely claimed us as his family, I decided to sort through them immediately. There were a couple of moderately good shots, none that were outstanding. After watching the bear in such close proximity for so long, I began to notice small things about how he moved and ate that I had not initially. He was patient. He was driven. He kept vigilant while he ate, though he appeared relaxed. The way he would swing his head up and around at the slightest sound belied his apparent calm. Nothing would get past him. When the bear, whom I had knighted Sir Nuit Noire, decided to take off for the night, he simply turned tail and padded awa
Mid-afternoon today, I walked past a window facing the side yard of our home. A surprise image was framed by the window. Sir Nuit Noire was basking in the sun. His fur looked lustrous and rich in the sun. He was digging randomly, pausing to eat, then moving forward . I noticed the strength in his hind quarters. This animal was wild and strong; he was uniquely suited for survival in this environment. West Brook runs a short distance downhill, providing a fairly reliable water supply. The mountain provides plentiful vegetation and game for the bear’s diet. Man has encroached on Sir Nuit Noire’s territory, but Nuit Noire has demonstrated remarkable adaptability. My camera came out and I started shooting again. I was lured into taking more photographs. Finally, he turned and lumbered away.
After sharing an Easter meal with all of our immediate family gathered, I saw Sir Nuit Noire hanging out back along the line of trees where the field meets the forest. I hurried to collect my camera. Just as I swung it up, I heard the front door open. My husband leaned off the porch and yelled in a deep baritone, “Shoo, go on, get out of here.” That bear high-tailed it at a four-pawed clip, disappearing. Muscles rippled beneath his massive quarters as he bolted from view. My camera was never lifted. If history serves as a reliable indicator, I have a suspicion that we have not seen the last of Sir Nuit Noire.
About two hours later, my dog was back at the front windows, sitting upright and tall, on high alert. There was a low growl in the back of his throat as he scanned the hill looking for movement. I stood by his side for about five minutes. In those five minutes, I felt as close to being inside of his head as I can imagine feeling. There was a bridge across the interspecies gap between dog and human as we waited. “Not again tonight, bud. Come on.” I lured him away with the promise of dinner. Tomorrow our vigil will begin once again.