The Daily Grace
The Daily Grace

Buddy bear.

Apr 28, 2020 | Moments of Grace, birds & bears | 17 comments

There are a thousand reasons, I suppose, we are obsessed with the bear.

He’s beautiful, for one. Big, and healthy, with a full shiny coat that makes you wonder if he spent any time hibernating this winter. (He sure doesn’t seem to have lost any poundage.) So often the bears that emerge in early Spring look more haggard, hungry-looking, sometimes with fur that’s patchy and dirty. Not this guy. He’s thriving in the wild, clearly thriving, and something about this feels powerful, primordial. Oddly appealing.

He’s calm. Controlled. Not holding back, exactly–more like he just doesn’t find any reason to get too excited. It’s fine, people, he seems to say. It’s all fine. He moves slowly, deliberately, not over-reacting. In fact, the couple of times he’s made it onto our deck (we don’t encourage this) he moves along like a slow vacuum, hoovering up the sunflower seeds dropped by the birds while showing not one bit of interest (as yet) in the feeders that hang just above his head. It is rather shocking, this behavior, it being a much more typical practice of the bears to rip those suckers down in a short, hot minute; to devour the contents; to inadvertently destroy them.

And he drinks from the bird bath, have I said that? He drinks from a bird bath that’s attached to our deck railing, and he does it in a rather (dare I say it) well-mannered way. Not sloppy, gigantic gulps that would splash and drip and then spit-stream down from his muzzle. No. This bear is more delicate. Gentile. Refined.

(Could this possibly be a female? We thought surely so, and then we saw that big head.)

Most specifically, this guy seems to like us! Or at least tolerate us, willing to co-exist in a socially distant sort of way.

Here’s what I mean when I say that.

He’ll come to call, then when we see him and we discourage his proximity, he’ll lumber just far enough away to stop, take a seat, and wait.

And like any sweet animal who feels relaxed, who feels at home, he’ll lie down, resting his head on his gigantic paws.

I SHOULD SAY THIS, and I want to be very clear as I do: We are keenly aware this is a 350-pound Black Bear, king of this particular wild blue ridge, and in no way is he our family pet (even if it sometimes feels that way). This mountain is his purview and we honor his dominion over it. We do not nor would we ever feed him (or any wild animals) because that spells disaster–for him, for us, and for our (albeit distant) neighbors.

through the window–thus the proximity and the glare

Still we take total delight in his presence. Maybe it is because seeing a bear is remarkable. Or perhaps it is simply because we feel so alone on this mountain. We have been here 40 days and 40 nights and in that time we have hugged not one family member, welcomed not one guest, relished none of the joy that comes in the simple anticipation of sharing a place or a time or an experience with people you love.

And it still feels crazy. Right? Otherworldly? We just keep marching through, like all of us do, making our way one minute, one day, one week at a time. Month by lonely month. People need people, this is what we know, people need people like plants need soil and water and sunshine. And when either of us starts to wilt–whether it’s Tim or it’s me–the other will say, Hey, where do you think that bear is right now? or Do you think he’s gonna come by tonight? or Did you hear that? Gotta be him, don’t you think? And we go to the window and look, and we wait and watch and hope, and sometimes there he is, and sometimes a while later he comes ambling along and catches the look in our eyes (I swear I believe this is true) and he decides right then and there the very best thing he can do–the kind thing, really–is to just have seat and hang out a while, with us.

And so he does.

Our buddy, the bear.



  1. Eddie Enfinger

    Always good to here of the adventures on Cat Mountain! Love you guys and like you say………….can’t wait to hug on my dear friends!

    • Cathy

      There’s a mighty day of hugging a’coming. XXOO

  2. Lisa Rigg

    What an incredible experience for you AND Buddy. He seems to have settled in and respects you like you are respecting him.
    Everyone need something to look forward to especially during this time of social distancing and Buddy is certainly your SOMETHING SPECIAL. Enjoy and Be safe!

    • Cathy

      He really is special–but I promise you, we are mighty careful. He’s a BIG BOY. Love you!

  3. Rosie Locke

    I have begun to look forward to hearing about Buddy as much as y’all enjoy laying eyes on him. What an opportunity to enjoy a black bear in his prime, a blessing from God. I am glad y’all found each other and that you have the knowledge of what not to do with him. I love him.

    • Cathy

      Oh, Rosie, I love him, too. XXOO

      • Marie Dockery

        Love love love! Thank you for making my smile larger than usual.

        • Cathy

          I love this. Thank you for commenting!

  4. Judy Cannon

    Awesome photos and experience with the bear. I’m so envious as I do want to see one in it’s natural space so am excited to live vicariously through you until my own opportunity arrives. Perhaps she/he is lonely, too – having observed you and some of your visitors from afar without you ever knowing it — and maybe she/he too misses the sounds of laughter and joy that comes from being with dear friends — something that is missing from wandering over the mountain. Hope that day returns soon for all of us!

    • Cathy

      Could he be lonely? I had not considered that, but now I sure will. You always open my eyes to something with hidden beauty! XXOO

  5. Elizabeth

    Such a gentleman, this Buddy Bear. He is obviously a gift, from your Mountain. To visit you, protect you and watch over you. Lucky you!

    • Cathy

      He is a gentleman, isn’t he? I hadn’t thought of that! Thanks for reading and letting me know you are here, dear friend!

  6. Sherri Gaulin

    Could he be Gentle Ben? Please enjoy him or her from a distance.

    • Cathy

      Hahaha! We are mighty careful, I promise you. Thanks for commenting! XXOO

  7. Joe Rawl

    Wow! What a beautiful experience it must be to have “the” bear come and go. I’ve envious, and pleased that you take the opportunity and time to take and share the really great photos. Thanks. Keep on keeping on. Stay safe.

    • Cathy

      Oh, thank you dear friend! Sending so much love to you and Joretta. XXOO

  8. Jean McElroy

    You all be careful, that is a wide animal.

Cathy Rigg Headshot

Hi. I’m Cathy.

This is a blog about writing, creative living, and grace in the everyday. It’s my hope this little spot on the internet will be for you a place of quiet and reflection, a source for inspiration, and a reminder there’s beauty all around—we simply need to keep our hearts open to see it. Thank you for being here with me.

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