I often wake up in the middle of a full-moon night. The silvery light leaking in around the edges of the blinds seems to be just enough to tilt my unconscious into a “get up you’re missing something spectacular” mode.

The other night was no different. Wide awake at 2 or 3 or whatever the hell the time post-time-change was, I decided to get up and take a quick peek out my window. I’ve been trying to figure out a few tracks left behind in the first snow and thought perhaps I’d get lucky and catch something in a post-midnight visit to the pond or skirting the edge of the woods. No such luck; it was just me and the universe. I enjoyed the sky for a bit – a few pale stars – and the absolute stillness I’ve come to cherish out here. I threw a log on the fire and headed back to bed.

Five minutes later I heard a faint bonk. I thought at first it was just the new log settling into the flames, but then my spidey-senses kicked in and I tip-toed to my window. I had to lean in a bit, up and over my desk, but there he was. A big, black, lard-butt of a bear, belly-down, legs splayed in front, lapping up tiny niger seeds from where they had fallen from their now shredded sock-like feeder (and an annihilated wooden one).

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with my backyard bears (more of a fascination/deathly fear thing really), and it was odd listening to slurping sounds coming from a bear less than three feet away. K isn’t home, and I know when I tell him this story the first thing he’ll say is “why didn’t you chase him away?” In my defense, I did try; I turned on the outside lights and banged half-heartedly on the wall, but I don’t even get between dogs and their food, I sure as hell wasn’t going to get between Buddy Bear and one of his last pre-hibernation, fatten-up-quick-on-whatever-he-can-find meals.

I watched in morbid fascination for a while, tipping forward on my toes when he was engrossed in licking the cement, and rocking back on my heels each time he looked up. Oh, how I wanted to take a picture! But I’d had a crystal clear and extreme close-up of those claws and decided that startling a bear with a camera flash, at 3 AM, while he’s eating, and I’m standing sans PJs with only a flimsy window between us, was “outside my comfort zone.”

I watched and listened to his self-satisfied grunts and decided that when he’d finished his snack, I’d make my move; I’d open the door and threaten him in the most fearless voice I could muster. When he did finally rise to his feet, I skulked back into the shadows. Even though I know in my heart he’s got the vision of an 85-year-old, I wasn’t taking any chances. Crows remember faces; maybe bears do too; I did NOT want him getting a bead on me.

He started to lumber off toward the side of the house, so I zipped to another window to catch one last glimpse before I would lose him to the dark. Hmmm, no bear in the front yard… I looked back into my office and caught him, standing, one paw on the glass, trying to gaff the last piece of intact birdhouse from its rope.

After several failed attempts he started trundling towards the grass and I made my move. I opened a door (the one furthest from him of course) and yelled. He picked up the pace, but stopped by the pond to glance back. I got brave and hollered again, and he finally jogged off along the dock and into woodsy shadows.

 

Bear poop!

At first light, I wandered out to check the damage. I could see a pile of something halfway along the bear’s escape route to the pond that looked suspiciously like bear poop (I can recognize bear poop from 100 yards). Victory. I’m a bad ass; I scared the shit out of a bear.

-m-

P.S. He left a nice set of tracks on the pond dock 🙂