Friday, 12 October 2012

Bear Lessons

In my backyard
For the last couple of weeks we have been visited by bears in our backyard and sometimes in the front yard.  Only one at a time, fortunately, and not everyday.  They are slurping up the acorns that come from a bunch of oak trees on our property.  At first I found this exciting.  Bears! In my yard! I've heard stories in the past about the bears in town, but in the 17 years I've lived here, I've had one bear cub in my tree and heard of a few in other yards.  So when a bear showed up in my yard, I was out there taking pictures, telling everyone about it, watching from the window until it was too dark to see the black fur in the black shadows.  But after a while, I realized that this bear thing is kind of an inconvenience. 

First of all, a bear will sometimes leave a "gift" behind.  Thank you to my loving husband who is willing to go and scoop up these rather large presents.   Then, I learned some bears don't take kindly to being watched closely and photographed.  I was up on the deck, and old grumpy decided to "harrumph" and charge at me.  I slammed up against the wall, camera still clicking (those photos are no good), and prayed the bear wouldn't climb up the deck and eat me!  Well he didn't.  I stopped breathing for about forever, didn't move a muscle, and he went back to his snacking after an angry glare or two.  After my heart slowed down and I took a few more pictures (call me crazy) I was exhilirated with the whole experience. 

It was what I found out from other people about bears -- they are unpredictable; they walk silently so you can't hear them come up to you; they don't like being disturbed--that I started getting scared.  So now I won't go out the back door past 7:30 at night.  I use our unused front door to come and go.  I won't walk anywhere in the dark, and I won't let Maxie, my dog, out by herself in the dark either.  Now I leash her up and walk to a wide open, well-lit area a couple of times in the evening and a couple of times in the morning, usually somewhere between 5 and 6 am.  She's tiny, white, and fluffy.  A friend said a bear would love to snap her up like a marshmallow!  Really, I don't know if a bear would eat her, but he might get mad at her and swat her down like a housefly.

It occurred to me yesterday morning as I was walking the dog in the biting, cold wind for the second time before 6 am, that these bears are a good metaphor for the obstacles that life throws at us.  They drop into our lives unexpectedly, exhilarting us, scaring us, inconveniencing us, making us adjust to them and even mabye leaving a few messes for us to clean up.  For the next few weeks it is something I have to deal with, whether I like it or not.  I can either moan and complain about this obstacle, resisting and making myself angry.  Or I can embrace the moment, accept it, and learn something from it.
Sketch I made a few years ago from a photo
So I chose to view these bears as an opportunity to practice courage.  I am learning that I can consistently step out of my comfort zone when faced with the unknown for something I care about, just as when I face my fear each time I step out the door in the dark for my dog, not knowing if a bear is out there. 

I guess it's all in how you look at it. 

Have a bear-y great day.

-- Leah


  1. Oh yes, exhilarating is just the right word I would imagine! I think you could also look at the situation from the bear's perspective. "All these unpredictable humans living in my backyard, building these monstrous things where I used to find berries. They seem to think I'm some kind of oddity and they rush out and photograph me without asking first - honestly, you never know what they're going to do next!"

    1. That is too funny! :) And you are absolutely right. The bears were here first after all.

  2. I guess they are a part of life in your neck of the woods but they scare the bejesus out of me. I had a friend who was chased when he was out running one morning. Apparently he came between mum and her cub. Oops. He became a sprinter real on that day LOL. Makes my spider fear seem ridiculous.

    1. I've never seen a bear run but I hear they are very fast. Your friend must've had a good workout! And no fear is ridiculous, even spider fear. I screamed real loud the other day when I saw a gartner snake lying on the road. Scared me silly and it was dead!