the bear is back

Uncategorized May 06, 2024

We seem to have become a regular stop on the journey of a black bear as he/she comes out of hibernation each spring.  For the last few Aprils, this lovely creature has shambled through our yards, lolled in our swimming pool, and climbed up our eucalyptus tree for an afternoon snooze.  The bear has found a favorite lounging place in our daughter and son-in-law’s outdoor cabana and has started exploring the dark under-reaches of their crawl space, pulling out insulation.  And, of course, the bear has found all of our trash cans.  

Our main worry is our little grandsons.  Not that the bear would want to hurt them.  Black bears have very docile and normally non-confrontational dispositions.  Twice it has stood idly by as someone walked by it in the backyard without noticing.  Once I turned, sensing it before I saw it, and as I pulled out my phone to take a photo, it scampered away over a fence much more quickly than I would have expected possible.

In case you are wondering about the brown bear in the photo, that is the color of most “black bears”, at least in the west.  I’m not sure how they were named, because I definitely have never seen one with black fur.  Maybe they’ve been sun-bleached like all of our California surfer-dudes. 

We have lately taken to arming ourselves with bullhorns and bear spray when we are traipsing back and forth to our daughter’s house.  However, one week we made a tactical error after the bear had obviously been back under Meredith’s house while her husband was out of town.  David went over and sprayed bear spray (extremely potent pepper spray) around the entrance to the crawl space.  Suddenly we all began to cough.  The pepper spray had infiltrated through the windows and floors and the house became uninhabitable for a few hours.  Meredith and her boys ended up over at our house, sleeping in the guest room and camping on our bedroom floor.  It was quite the adventure.

In what is a synergistic moment in my life, my book group will be hosting an author for only the second time in our 27 years of meeting.  Chris Erskine, a local newspaper humor columnist has written a book with Steve Searles, the “Bear Whisperer” of Animal Planet television network.  The book, “What the Bears Know” is a memoir about Searles’ work as a wildlife rescuer in Mammoth Lakes, California.  Erskine will be with us to answer questions (and I have many) about what he learned about black bears from his writing project with Searles.

Love, Liz