So, I’ve answered today’s daily prompt before, but I’m going to go at it from a different angle this time. A lighter note if you will. I mentioned an almost encounter with a bear I had when I lived in North Carolina and someone asked me to tell about it “soon”. This seems the right format, so here goes.
My middle child (we will call him Russell) and I moved to North Carolina in the early 2000’s because, why not? My sister lived there and it seemed an interesting place to be. We moved into a tiny house up on a little hill with two other tiny houses surrounded by trees, bunny rabbits, and chirping birds. I only met one our neighbors, a nice couple with a baby. The other never made an appearance the entire time we lived there. Now, as I mentioned, we lived on the top of a hill, and the directions to our house actually included the phrase (a la Jeff Foxworthy) “turn off of the paved road”. This meant that the trash had to be taken downhill once a week to be picked up because the garbage truck was in no way going to make that trip up our narrow driveway. This task fell to the child-person, who at that time was seventeen and in much better shape to pull it off than I.
Between these trips, we fell into the habit of setting our full trash bags outside to the side of our house, near the driveway. Until one day we pulled up and the trash had disappeared, bag and all.
“Well, that’s weird.” said I
“It’s probably dogs.” Russell shrugged.
“Dogs would have left a mess.”
I thought it was a bear from the start, or some weirdo who wanted to go through our trash for some odd reason. Bear being the more likely of the two. But since we had no proof of either, we both shrugged it off and went on with our lives.
Then one evening, about eleven o’clock at night, I was sitting at my computer, chatting with a friend of mine who lived in a different state when I heard a tremendous crash just outside the window beside me. I, being the brave person I am, ran out of the room as fast as I could, turning off the light in the process (to make myself less of a target of course). Now, this house had floodlights on the side of the house, so I ran into the kitchen and turned them on. On shaky legs, I sneaked into my now-darkened room and peeked out of the window. There, not three feet from me, stood a huge black bear, merrily eating my garbage. Were I a stupid person, I could have reached out and petted it.
“Okay, Willow,” I breathed, “Stay calm. The bear is outside and you are inside.” Like that flimsy screen and window would keep a bear out if it wanted to come in… I’d read somewhere that bears didn’t like loud noises, so I reached my shaking hands out and banged on the window. The bear looked up at me like I’d been reading too many books and went back to eating my garbage. “Okay, that didn’t work. What to do? What to do?”
I tiptoed past the window — because the bear totally wouldn’t hear and/or smell me doing that — and got back onto the computer. Tina! I typed There’s a bear outside of my window! What do I do????
Cool! Take a picture!
Dude, you’re not hearing me, there’s a BEAR outside of my window.
And you can’t take a picture of it?
Not the advice I was looking for. But, what the hell? Maybe the flash will scare the bear away. I grabbed my point and shoot camera and knelt below the window — because the bear totally wouldn’t smell me if I did that — and snapped a few shots of… total darkness. There went that plan. I tossed the camera on the bed. Then I saw headlights flash by my front windows. I flew into the living room and opened the window as my neighbors pulled up into their driveway.
“Stay in your car!” I yelled, “There’s a bear in my yard!”
“Yeah,” said the guy, “We saw it when we pulled in.”
I could hear them walking closer to me as we spoke. What are you doing? I mentally screamed at them, Get back in your car or go inside.
“Oh look!” said the woman, “It’s a momma and her cub! That’s so cute.”
“Yeah,” I silently banged my head against the window. “They got into my trash.” Why aren’t you going inside?
“Yep, we see that,” he laughed. They stood just outside of the floodlights and just kind of… watched. I wouldn’t be surprised if they had cameras out and took pictures. I’m sure they left their baby in the car. They had to have left the baby in the car, right? I mean, no one was that reckless. I’m sure they left the baby in the car.
“Um, okay.” said I, giving up on a rational discourse. “I’m closing my window now. Good-night” Don’t get eaten by the bear.
“Good-night!” they chorused.
It was about then that I got worried about Russell and what he thought about all of this. His room was next to mine and all. So I wandered over to his room and nonchalantly opened the door. “Dude.” I found him on the phone. “I don’t mean to panic you or anything, but there’s a bear outside.”
He put his hand over the mouthpiece, “Yeah, I know. I saw it when you turned on the floodlights.”
“I don’t think you understand…” I leaned against the door frame. “There’s a bear. Outside.”
“Mom. I know. I saw it.” He took his hand off of the mouthpiece and went back to talking to his friend. “Yeah, my mom’s all worked up because there’s a bear in our yard. Yeah, a bear…”
I threw my hands in the air and left the room, closing the door behind me. I turned off the floodlights and went back to my room to continue the conversation with my friend. Outside I could hear the bear methodically working its way through my garbage. I glanced outside and saw the baby bear up in a tree with an ice cream container. At some level, it looked cute. But I knew different. Any moment now those cute looking critters could become walking death machines. They never did, of course, but I still thought that the people around me were under-reacting.
After that day, the garbage stayed inside until the weekly trip down the hill. We didn’t have any more visits from bears, and that’s about as close to a bear as I want to get. I live in bear country again so we have to be cautious with things like trash and food. Don’t want bears thinking that our house is a good place to eat.
Just for fun, here’s a video of bears having fun in someone’s back yard… (it’s long). At least this family stayed the hell inside. >_<