Seven kilometres up the road, I’d come across a new road leading to a proposed development that would become two dozen luxury lots with ocean, forest and mountain views. I’d dismounted my bike last night to get better glimpses of the water views in particular. If I win the lottery, I thought.
Returning by car, I got three-quarters the way up the biggest hill and stopped the car. On the side of the road seventy feet ahead of me were a mother bear and her cub. The cub was oblivious to the new intruder, but Mama looked my way. I cut the engine and rolled up the windows. Seeing that I was not advancing, Mama refocused on the cub who kept circling Mama and pawing her. The two drifted to the gentle, foxglove-covered hillside that edged the road. It proved a much better play area for the cub who kept tumbling before getting back up and trying to goad Mama into a play fight. Mama even fell on her back twice, paws flailing in the air momentarily. She pawed back at the young ‘un who showed no sign of slowing down.
After ten minutes, the duo drifted ten feet uphill, the curve in the road and tall grasses obstructing most of my view. Then I saw Mama raise her head, looking further ahead. The cub scurried up a tall pine and Mama sauntered over for guard duty at the base of the tree.
For a moment, my mind envisioned a worst-case scenario. Could there be some numbskull hunters round the bend, the dolts who shop at that cursed hunting supply store I pass every time I drive into town? I cracked the window to listen for a car motor or a sound more ominous. Nothing, thank goodness.
Five minutes later, as I strained to make out the cub high in the tree, a movement made me turn left. On the hillside directly beside the car was a deer, the likely impostor who’d likely disturbed the bears’ play. Another gorgeous creature, so gentle, so curious as our eyes met.
I waited until the deer moseyed another twenty feet past the car before starting the engine and turning the car around, heading for home with a sense of utter calmness and satisfaction.
Do I have any pics to document my nature sightings? No. The bears looked like brown blobs through the lens of my cheap digital camera. I didn’t bother to click. As for the deer, there was too much of the car in the frame. I didn’t wish to stick my head out and startle the creature. Respecting the animals was more important than having my perfect photo op. I am completely satisfied with the images that will stay in my mind.
Yes, this is why I moved here in the first place. At times, bears worry me. When I moved in, my neighbor to the left told me his dog was killed by a bear two years prior. My neighbor to the right told me his schnauzer also succumbed to a bear attack at some point before my arrival. I have seen a bear once a bike ride and a few recently on the roadside while driving into town, but until tonight, that’s all. (This is my first ever cub sighting.) The deer are more commonly spotted in my area at dawn and dusk. Two nights ago while out for our last walk, I scooped up the dog so as not to spook a deer on our street. If anything, it’s the coyotes that make me the wariest. I’ve seen them many times as darkness falls when I’ve been out walking the dog or make the trek back from the ferry. One chased my dog down our street a year ago. My schnauzer wisely yelped frantically to get my attention and ran right into my arms. Assuming my own Mama Bear persona, I stomped and hollered until the coyote retreated into the bushes at the top of the hill. On warm summer nights when I leave the window open, I am sometimes awakened by the coyotes' pitchy choir practice not too far off in the woods behind my house. Personally, I prefer that din to the early morning howls of the neighbors' kids.
Nothing much happens here. No White Parties. No drag shows. Not even a gay sighting at the gym or, well, anywhere. Sometimes the sense of being all alone overtakes me, disheartens me, leaves me longing for anything and everything that the city—any city—offers. But for tonight, I am completely content.
Well, almost. There’s the matter of What-the-Dog-Brought-in while I wrote this. A few days ago, he discovered an animal bone somewhere in the neighborhood. It’s given him oodles of pleasure as he scurries in and out to scoop it in his mouth, wandering the back yard in search of the perfect hiding spot. Turns out that spot is the carpet in my living room.
A huge animal lover, I like them alive and intact. The bone? It would be irreverent to chuck it in the trash can so back to the yard it goes. If only my dog could learn to dig in the ground instead of atop my chairs and on the rug. Some beasts have become too humanized.