English: Black bear

English: Black bear (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Awake on another Golden Pond Sunday; the Library, my newest discovery, and the Coffee House are closed; but the gym is open 24/7 so I set my sights toward that outcome. The ice on the lake and the snow on the land begin to yield to the second 70 degree beautiful day in seven months; I down my Cream-O-Wheat with raisins and butter and honey and a cinnamon bagel drenched in cream cheese, almond butter and organic blueberry preserves, gulp my giant homemade cappuccino and down a ice-cold glass of well water in the only surviving beer glass from my grandfathers bar in Little Italy; it’s a good 100 years old and must hold 24 ounces; the iconic beer glass that used to sell back then, full of beer, for 5 cents.


The birds and the bees and the squirrels and the trees are bursting spring as I drive along the deserted country road towards town thinking what the weightlifters at the gym were commiserating about yesterday; worried that the swarms of deer that have come a strolling are dangerous; warning that they’ll run right into the side of your car at high speed, or if you hit one head on, come crashing through your windshield and crush you flat as a pancake. But just now, on this early daybreak, I daydream a romanticized narrative for the poetic vision of the smoke billowing from the country home chimneys as it ties the roofs to the dark violet sky in an unbroken symmetry like connective tissue; a little slice of Norman Rockwell paradise.


Just then a wild turkey or grouse, some huge bird, slams right into my driver’s side window; six inches from my face. BAM; like a shotgun blast; it bounces off and splits to the side of the dusty road. I stop and  get out to check the damage to the winged kamikaze as the stunned bird runs away looking like the Roadrunner of cartoon fame; Beep, Beep!


On a whim I ventured a little farther into the wilderness and just keep going; wanting to let the local wild menagerie know I’m here to stay and friendly. As I make my way into their world I think had my window been open the collision might have snapped my neck like a toothpick; lucky again. Damn near turned me into carrion for coyotes, and later; food for worms.


Ten minutes in I stop and lean motionless against an Evergreen watching a white-tailed Hawk soaring a mile above me, surveying  for mice and whatnot he glides effortlessly. He hasn’t seen me yet, until I move a bit and instantly he maneuvers stealthy and evasive; Hawk-eyes. There, off to my left, not 25 yards ahead, emerges from their unseen den, four American black bear cubs, each the size of a loaf of bread and no more than five pounds apiece; they are all of ten weeks old. I freeze and take it in.


Some might feel the desire to approach at this point but the story I heard about the video of a guy on Safari in Africa getting out of the Land Rover to try to pet a Lion that then went right for his crotch and ate him whole without a burp zips past  my minds-eye. It takes all my courage not to retreat. I know somewhere very close is a big version of these babies. Mom must be resting after a long winter; conserving her strength. Now in the silence I hear a low grunting; it sends them scurrying back to the hidden den.


I was still buzzing from that encounter the next day when getting the mail out by the main road, my neighbor stops in his pickup truck to ask me if I knew when the snowstorm delayed garbage pickup was rescheduled for; said he didn’t want to put it out early because he has seen a bear roaming his property; (just down the road from mine). “He’s a big sucker” he said; “half the size of your car, with a head this big” he said as he created a circle with both arms that looked to be the size of two basketballs.


I’m fond of saying I would prefer a death match with a bear to meeting an ignominious end and I would; while I harbor the thought that wrestling with a carnivore farther up the food chain than myself might one day be a glorious romantic finale; my inner logical voice whispers, not today.