THERE IS ANOTHER MOUNTAIN STORY I’ve yet to share, and one that deserves quite a crescendo. It happened the first day of our last trip, our climb to the top of that ridge one that is always filled with excitement as I scan the dirt road, the shadowy forest, the meadows ahead for bear. We’ve been rewarded with sightings two or three times from the safety of our car, my camera never able to get a good enough shot to share here. The best was the time the Mama and her babies crossed in front of us, then–I’m not kidding you–shimmied right up the trunk of a tree just a few yards into the woods. What a delight!
But on this arrival there were no such episodes as we made our way up the mountain and down the long drive to the house. We unloaded groceries, put our suitcases away, then poured ice cold beers into ice cold glasses and headed to the deck for our customary “we just got here” happy hour and sunset watch.
No bears that day, but a gorgeous, gorgeous view.
WE WERE EXPECTING FRIENDS for the weekend so the next morning I got up and before the day got away commenced to cooking. There were three giant packages of chicken to be dealt with–thighs and breasts, bones and not–and so it was an exercise that took me quite a bit of time. The windows were open, the skillets were smoking and sweet Tim had just come in, his morning having been filled with work on the roof rather than the meadow. He made a sandwich, stepped onto the screen porch then stuck his head back into the kitchen offering, ever-so-calmly, “Bear.”
I looked up. I was elbow-deep in chicken, so it took me a minute to wash up, grab my camera and join Tim on the deck where he pointed to the vines below and whispered, There. Eating the grapes.
Below us on the concrete walk was his bulky shadow, the leaves of the vine rustling. After a minute he heard us and glanced up, a little surprised, perhaps, but not very interested.
After a while he got up, ambled around to the bear path, and continued–we guessed–up toward the driveway.
I darted to the front door where I knew I could stand in the mudroom to watch. He came around the corner and good heavens continued walking right toward me.
There was plenty of glass between us, nevertheless I ducked inside, my heart beating fast.
The bear turned left and climbed the steps to the driveway. Tim alongside me now, we moved back to the front and I snap snap snapped with my camera.
What did he do? Lo and behold that bear came back down the embankment and returned to the grapes, shaking them this time with some significant intention. Then he stepped out from the shadows, looked up at us and–after a moment of careful consideration–raised up on his hind legs.
It occurs to me as I write this it sounds as if the bear was getting frustrated, or being aggressive, something that really wasn’t the case. He was more curious, that’s how it felt, rising up to get a little better view. (We can hardly blame him, focused as we were on chasing him around.) Nevertheless, I grabbed the bird feeders and ran back in the house, quick as a wink.
The bear? He came on around the other side of the house, up the steps, and according to Tim–who got a quick glimpse through the bedroom door while I cowered in the den–climbed right over the railing and on to our safe, sacred, happy-hour-viewing-spot deck.
At this point we were inside and he was outside, I should be clear about that. Still our hearts were racing like wildfire. The bear took his time, wandering about, looking around, smelling a bit. And then he lumbered back off, again climbing over the railing and heading in the direction of Tim’s workshop at the edge of the driveway. He made his way around the building’s back side and disappeared from our view. Then after a few minutes Tim ventured out and surmised the friendly fella had headed on up the mountain toward the Landl’s place.
IT WAS QUITE AN EXPERIENCE, I will give you that, one filled with so much excitement and fear the thrill hung on for days. We stayed on high alert and discussed, ad nauseam, what had prompted that bear to come so close, where we should keep the air horn (it was in the garage or we would have blown it simply to dissuade him from coming onto the deck), what would have happened had Tim been out clearing the meadow when the bear came to call. It was the smell of chicken that drew him, that’s what we believe, along with a genuine curiosity about the new folks in this pretty house with the big, berry-filled meadow.
I SHOULD ALSO SAY THIS. We have a great respect for these creatures, Tim and I both. We understand these are their mountains first and foremost. We also know black bears are not likely to become aggressive, although they do take food–and the promising smells thereof–very, very seriously.
We shall remain ever mindful.
Be Beary Careful! You are something else my friend! Great pictures and wonderful narrative!
Ha! Thank you, friend!
AS I said, In. The. Floor. The story I waited for and it did not disappoint. My maternal grandmother (who had relatives in Marion and Grundy) and her kids always said, …commenced to cooking or commenced to get dressed for church.” That bear has been watching you since summer. Yogi. Your mascot.
We never know when that bear is gonna show! I’m sure there will be more stories–hopefully none that have my heart racing like this time!
Beautifully written Cathy! And quite an exciting story being that close to such an amazing creature. Glad you were behind glass when he got close! I love the view from your deck and I bet the trees will be in full color soon. I look forward to reading your blog more often and hopefully seeing a pic of Fall since we don’t really get that down here. 🙂
Hey, friend! Thanks for reading and for commenting. It was quite an adventure watching that dude–he has certainly kept us on high alert!
Great story and photos. Thanks for sharing. Black bears are plentiful in Florida. Keep your airhorn closer and your camera clicking!
Yes, my friend Jay just pointed out to me that we are allowed more than one air horn. Good advice from you both! XXOO
I just read aloud your fascinating account of the bear visit as Joe and I travel thru NY on our way to CT. So exciting!! Great pics!! Thanks for sharing. J and J
I feel so thrilled to know this was read aloud. What an honor! Thanks J and J!
Great story with pics. So glad he was not aggressive, wanting to gain entrance into your Delicious smelling kitchen.
It was something, Alice. I will always be aware of cooking with the windows open!
Oh my goodness! I think I’ll stick with T and head to Edisto!!! Glad y’all are safe!
We don’t have sharks.
Love the post!!! What photogenic bear, quite the shutterbug!!
Don’t see these awesome creatures where I live, so this was very exciting.
We don’t have much experience with black bears, either! We think he was a young juvenile (with our untrained eyes) as we have seen a larger male a couple of times but there were no close encounters with him. He was BIG. So we are watching and reading and learning a great deal. Glad you enjoyed–and thanks for the comment!
I love this!!!!! Thank you for sharing your mountain experiences with us! I almost feel as if I’m there …
Thanks, Cheryl! I learned recently there are black bears in Florida which surprises me! Maybe you’ll see one–although I actually hope not!