I am standing at my front door and this is what I see:
Our door faces a small escarpment that is our neighbours’ back lawn. Often, usually at dusk, I take the dogs out for their evening constitutional and we’re greeted by our small, black-tailed friends.
They’re not fussed about the leashed dogs. They don’t bother to get up, but regard us calmly, chewing their cud.
I prefer these close encounters with the deer to the ones I’ve had with our bear. While I haven’t seen him yet, I’ve heard him snapping twigs and shaking the berry bushes close by. It’s almost fall, and the bears have started their late-season gorge in earnest, preparing for their retreat back up the mountains for winter. Bonus does a great job of kicking up a fuss when we see the bear, but Mocha has declined her role as bear dog. I think she respects this fellow scavenger, who is focused on nothing else but eating. She’s aware of the intruder, she’s not afraid of him, but she’s not going get between him and his food. She’s a smart dog, my Mocha.
There’s food a-plenty around our house. Berry bushes aside, the eagles and sea lions have access to so much scrap from the fish plant that they’re lazy with their leftovers. I found a huge chunk of tuna just outside our door, surrounded with the splat marks resulting from the wet fish being dropped from a great height. Manna from heaven for our bear.
Maybe a piece of fish landed on our neighbour’s beat-up bronco. Two nights ago, our bear decided to clamber over her truck, covering it with huge muddy paw prints and crunching in the top of the cabin! She only noticed something awry when she got into the truck to go to work and noticed her head brushed the ceiling of the car!
It’s things like this that cause locals to choose older, beat-up vehicles instead of fancy new cars. Old trucks you can drive for miles on logging roads and discover secluded beaches, secret fishing spots and breath-taking vistas. The dirt and dings from the flying gravel just add character to your chariot; and if a bear decides to use your car as a hammock, why, it just creates a new conversation piece for passengers who have to scrunch down a bit in the back seat. The new vehicles rarely make it off the paved roads, and the bear hammock scenario would more likely result in tears than laughter.
Kat & I have started to watch old episodes of “Northern Exposure”, a TV show that was filmed in the 90s, set in Alaska. The intro follows a huge bull moose ambling through town as if he owns the place. There are a lot of things about that show that we assumed were exaggerations of rural small town life — eccentric local characters, people living in the woods rather than renting apartments, wildlife greeting you on your front porch. It’s actually not far from the truth!