Saturday, June 13, 2009

When Animals Are Encountered: The Black Bear

Bear eating berries Pictures, Images and Photos
Upstate New York is a forager's paradise in the summertime. All my life, I've loved roaming around outside looking for edibles. I don't know why, but I'm already passing it on to my kids. When I lived in New York, I wandered aimlessly looking for small wild strawberries, blackberries, crab apples, choke cherries, blueberries, blackberries, and Empire apples. In August, there was this hill above a river, covered in blueberries and I never missed a chance to enjoy the harvest.

One sunny afternoon, I was glutting myself on the ripe berries not thinking about much else. I was 10 or 11 and I felt most happy being wild and free. The mosquitoes were pretty bad, but I would endure anything for free fruit. I didn't realize at the time that I wasn't the only living creature in those bushes. I heard a weird snuffling sound in some bushes. At first I thought that maybe my dog had come to join me, so I started to move towards the noise and call him. Suddenly I saw a big black hairy behind and realized that it couldn't be my dog. Was it Big Foot?

Big Foot heard me approaching and looked up. I was looking right in the eyes of a snacking black bear! We lived in the wilderness so this wasn't such an unlikely meeting, but for a scrawny kid who had never seen one outside of a zoo, it really was! As foolish as I generally am, I remembered that I couldn't just bolt out of there, the bear would probably chase me. I slowly started to back up, always looking at the creature. He was actually very placid looking surrounded by blue, green, and sunlight and he was probably wanting to savor the blueberries rather than eat me. I just kept doing a panicky moonwalk until I felt it was safe to run like the wind.

I may have invited a bull to attack me, but I certainly didn't want to mess with a large bear. From that moment on, I learned to walk about with a large stick, much like Teddy Roosevelt. I never saw the bear again and I can't say I feel sad about that. One Big Foot is enough for a lifetime.


Anonymous said...

haha! I admire your presence of mind, especially considering you were a kid! You were more composed than I was as an adult when I had my first encounter with a bear in the wild. (Never mind how I reacted. Let's just say I wasn't suave or collected.)

Thanks for sharing that story.

It is almost berry picking season where I am. Yum.

Jessica said...

Hey Anaji! I'm glad you liked it. I was fearless as a kid, but now that I'm old, I'm terrified of everything!