09 May 2008

No, I didn't see the bear...

...but Oliver might have.
This is big news in our small town. On Monday someone spotted a bear. The news reported that it was seen somewhere in the township that surrounds our borough, but in fact it had actually been right in town.

Monday around 10 a.m. someone spotted the bear and reported it to the local police. They searched for it, then called in the local game officer, who also searched for the bear. No one encountered the bear.

Later Monday evening around 9 p.m. my backyard neighbor's wife saw the bear right out her front door, digging through their trash.

Oliver and I got home around 9:50 that night, and I put him outside soon after we got home, because I figured he might need to go after the long car ride. He was quiet outside for a few minutes, then he started barking and growling. Now, Oli barks at everything, but this was different than his usual bark. I called him in immediately, only thinking that it is late and I'd hate for Oli to wake the babies next door. His hackles were up when he came in, so this was more than a bunny. I really didn't think anything more of it until the 11 o'clock news gave their brief report, just saying that a bear had been reported by residents.

Then I'm thinking, "ooh, a bear. I'd better watch Oli when I put him out for his last time out tonight. Hmm, maybe that's what he was barking at earlier. Nah. That bear wouldn't have been anywhere near here. That's a big township, with plenty of wooded areas. What would a bear want with town?"

So we went to bed. I had a bit of a sinus headache, which woke me up in the wee hours, so after I was able to fall asleep again, I decided to sleep in.

It was my late Tuesday at work, so I didn't get up until around 10. I put Oliver out, checked on the laundry, and he started barking up a storm. So, again, I call him in, and he makes a beeline for the front door, still barking. Oh. There are two ladies on the front porch. With cameras. Well this is odd. What are they doing? I hope they don't want to take pictures of the house or something dumb like that. The place is a mess. So I get the locks undone, and I ask them "can I help you?" Like I'm at work. They tell me that they heard there was a bear sighting. I said, "Yeah, I heard that too. On the news last night." So we talked for a few minutes, they asked me if I saw it, I said no, but Oli went kind of nuts barking at something last night. And they asked me if I was afraid, and I told them, not for me, but for Oli yes. Actually, my exact words were "well, sure." And that, my friends, it the quote that made it into our local paper. Wow. Do I sound like a bumkin, or what? So they took my name, and asked Oli's name. I actually forgot to ask what paper they were with at the time, the whole thing kind of caught me off guard. Not to mention that we had this whole conversation while I'm hanging on to Oli's collar and standing there in my bathrobe. Nice.

So, on Wednesday evening mom and I are out front giving the forsythia its annual trim, and she tells me that she heard the bear was spotted at the intersection of my street and the side street a half a block away. Wow. That's close. Now I am starting to think maybe Oliver did see something.

We never did get the trimming done because we were interrupted twice. First, by random people driving down the street, looking for the bear. They wanted to know if we saw it. And second, by our neighbors across the street when they came home. I have a feeling if I try to do any yard work this weekend, it will be more of the same.

Then on Thursday, when our local weekly paper comes out, I finally learned just how close the bear had been. Our back yard neighbor told the newspaper that her dog must have scared it off, and that it was last seen running across our street. Which means it had only two avenues: between my house and the neighbor with the babies, or between the house with the babies and the next house. Either way, that bear was practically in our back yard.

This is the photo from the newspaper. It was taken from my back yard neighbor's house, and you can see the side of our bungalow between the porch posts. Very, very close.


Sandy said...

Wow! That was close. I sure am glad he/she didn't hurt Oliver! (With all of the building of those fancy new homes, they are destroying the only places the animals have to live. It's a shame because it is the animal that ultimately pays the price for man's greed.)

Jen said...

I don't usually leave long comments, but your post reminds me so strongly of this poem that I have to post it. Pardon the phrasing - I'm typing from the memorized words, but not the book.

Seven Caveats in May
-Maxine Kumin

When the dog whines at 5am
Do not make your first mistake and let him out.
When he starts to bark in a furious tom tom rhythm,
And you can just discern a shadowy fainting taking place under the distant hemlocks,
Do not seize the small sledge from the work table
and fly out there in your nightgown and unlaced high tops
preparing to whack this, the ninth of its kind in the last ten weeks,
over the head before it can quill your canine.
But it's not a porcupine.
It's a big black angry bear.

Now your dog has put him u a tree and plans to keep him there.
A perfect piece of work by any hound.
Do not run back and grab the manure fork ,
thinking you can keep the prongs between you and the elevated bear
long enough to dart in and coral your critter.
Isn't it true that bears come down slower than they go up?

Half an hour later do not give up, go in the house, and call the cops.
The dispatcher regrets having to report there is no patrol car at this time.
The state police are covering
No doubt the nearest trooper,
wearing his smoky bear Stetson,
is 40 miles up the highway.

When your closest neighbor big burly Smitty works his way into his jeans,
and roars up your dirt road in his four wheel diesel truck,
strides over the slash pile,
and hauls your hound back -
by now you've thrown something on over your not quite diaphanous nightgown -
do not forget to thank him with a six pack.

Do not fail to take your feeders in on April 1,
despite the arriving birds insistent clamor,
and do not put them out again until the first of December.

Oliver's Bungalow said...

Thanks, Sandy and Jen. Yeah, I'm being more cautious these days. I've taken to poking my head out the door and taking a long look around before I let Oli out these days.