Monday, August 27, 2007

Bear With Me

Well, there was.

Mrs. Author is a food pusher. Take a look around our home and you'll notice that most of us are well fed - perhaps too well. Once we have had our fill and cries of mercy emanate from the dinner table, Mrs. Author's love of feeding spills out of the house - to the joy of forest inhabitants that surround us.

A cursory glance at our back deck reveals a most unsavory sight. Bread, birdseed and suet litter the landscape like the remnants of a Roman feast. Look a little closer, however, and the workings of an entire ecosystem come in to focus. Squirrels, mice and the like flit about the rubble, cheeks exploding with new found culinary delights. Birds (the intended recipients of treats) dive bomb the crowd in a frantic effort to secure scraps. Raccoons sweep through the rubble, sending smaller creatures scrambling for cover. It's a bona fide feeding circus.

For months I have protested this feeding for fear that we might end up with larger visitors of the sort that evoke stories of evisceration, laceration, amputation - all the nasty tions. My protests fell on deaf ears. My fears were well founded.

The evening of July 27th found us parked in front of the tube catching up on local news. I was just coming down from a harried, hectic day at the office, content to spend quiet time with the family. Unfortunately, discontent was on the menu and heaping platter of it was served up to me as I wandered past the kitchen window..... and stared directly in to the eyes of a very large, hungry black bear.

I'll only go so far as to speak for myself here, but I think it safe to assume a sort of universal reaction to a near six foot tall, multi-hundred pound killing machine standing at your back door. I jumped behind my wife and screamed for my mother. Then I grabbed the camera.

Despite the foreboding sense that a multitude of tions were about to be unleashed on me, I steadied the camera in an effort to capture the essence of the magnificent beast that occupied our back stoop. The fearless creature took no notice, and went about the business of dismantling our birdfeeder to gain access to the heroin like substance that had called him from the wild: suet, with berries.

Lest you think suet with berries sounds harmless (or downright silly) consider yourself warned. You may as well throw a honey covered quarter of beef in the back yard. Either way, you are going to have company. The kind that ends up in the news. As did we.

The irony of this was not lost on me: the same hungry, opportunistic bear who interrupted my Friday night news viewing experience had me on TV the next night speaking with reporters. Mrs. Author was there too - fussing with her hair, pleading with me to stop mumbling about my previous protests against leaving food out for wildlife. We explained that the bear had spent around 45 minutes with us. I tried to convey to the reporters how unfortunate it was that my camera ran out of tape just prior to my having delivered a devastating left hook to the intruder. They weren't buying it.

*new- video footage!

After eating every crumb of food it could find, the bear wandered in to the yard of our neighbors and stopped in front of a large plastic ball left out by their child. Following a sniff and a nudge, he placed an enormous paw on the ball, immediately flattening it, the air escaping in a whoosh. Satiated and amused, he then meandered over to the pond, took a quick dip, and slipped away in the cover of the surrounding forest, never to be seen again. Yet.

I have considered asking Mrs. Author to walk the dogs at night. We'll see how that works out, but in the meantime, I can claim one accomplishment: our yard is a food-free zone. No more screaming birds, angry raccoons or nine pound chipmunks. And if things seem a little lonely- perhaps even boring, that's fine by me.

There is an upside to this story. The dogs witnessed these events from a safe distance.

Truffles: "Darn straight, I was under the bed!"

Sola: "Brownie points genius."

Author: I do seem to remember that. That's ok Truffles. Enjoy your evening outdoors...

Yes, that's suet.