I had a visitor twice this week. He was so beautiful that I remained captivated by him for over half an hour each time. I may have been on the other side of a glass window and over forty yards away from him, but I am sure he sensed that I was watching him. From time to time, he would pause his rifling on the ground for food and lift his head. He would look in my direction, then, sensing no motion or threat, he would go back to the business at hand -- feeding his 350 pound body.
It was my dog, Scooter, who first alerted me to the bear’s presence. He went bizerk, running back and forth between windows with a low pitch growl emanating from his throat. He threw in some whimpering before launching into full-out barking. It took two of us to drag him into the laundry room, out of sight, sound and scent of the bear.
I ran to get my camera, hoping that the bear wouldn’t turn tail before I had a chance to photograph him. As it turned out, I took about one hundred pictures and three videos during the time he spent on the hill outside my office window. I felt somehow bound to stand guard over the bear until he was ready to leave. It was something of a relief when he went on his way.
The next day, I was ready to submerge myself in a scorching tub of hot water. My tub is strategically placed beneath three large windows with a view over a meadow. One glance, I noticed how green the lawn had turned. Another glance, the bear was pawing at the ground, using his paws to bring his finds to his mouth. He was resting on his back haunches, relaxed. A more “chill” bear, I couldn’t imagine. I moved more slowly for my camera this time. While my tub water grew cold, I photographed and videographed the bear for almost half an hour. He was relaxed. My dog hadn’t picked up his scent and there was no threatening sound coming from the house.
The fact is that the bear didn’t sense a threat here at all. I have to confess that I was became jumpy over the next couple of days. I was concerned that the bear would appear when I was in the yard with the dog, or simply sitting in a lounge chair. And what if he was to arrive when I am was walking down the quarter-mile driveway? I couldn’t outrun him. I doubt I could outrun the porcupine that is also a regular visitor. Two nights later, the bear appeared around twilight.
My husband opened the front door and, in his deepest voice, called out, “Shoo, get out of here. Go on, shoo.” The bear took a look in the direction of the house then moved off surprisingly rapidly in the direction of the woods. It has been five days. I have had bittersweet pangs of loss. However, they do not compare with the expansive feeling of relief that he hasn’t been around. At once majestic and beautiful, I could see the bear was both dangerous and threatening. The stripped bark of trees he had marked showed evidence of what his claws could do. I feel honored to have had time with an animal so untamed and undiminished by all that mankind offers.
However, I applaud the distance he is keeping.