The birds are sitting in the bushes just outside the dining room window, staring at me. When I look up and they know they have my attention, they start squawking. They are very annoyed and want to know where their feeder is and what I am going to do about it.
What I am going to do about it is nothing. It’s the end of the budget line item of $20/week for birdseed. I’m through being a kind soul.
Two nights ago, I was home alone, upstairs and making my way through a collection of Sherlock Holmes stories. I was minding my own business. My thoughts, if any, were fairly evenly split between the idea that while Sr. A. Conan Doyle was entertaining enough, his earlier stories were much better; and turning out the light and going to sleep.
Before I could carry out that plan, rustling noises, which shouldn’t have been in the yard or close by the house, caught my attention. It’s March, and therefore technically spring, but Mother Nature is busy giving us a reprise of winter so the windows were closed. In spite of this, everything was loud and clear.
The noises increased, and amid it all, even though I had never heard this particular sound before, I could identify the bird feeder being pulled off the bracket on the window. I was waiting for the siding or the window frame to come with it. And it made me not just normal tense, but ready-to-jump-out-the-window tense – except that’s where the noises were.
This is not what I want to hear when I am alone. Even though I know exactly what is making all the noise – bears – I don’t want to have to deal with it. Did I mention I was alone?
When black bears stumble from their dens in the spring, they are groggy and irritable. Just plain crabby. (Although I’ll bet I was just as crabby at that point.) Not a few are in a really bad mood (ditto me) because they haven’t eaten all winter. These waking-up bears can also be aggressive.
The Hunter can tell you a story, (and I’m sure he would have told it to me if he had been there, which he wasn’t) about a waking-up bear. He heard the story from an old farmer in Maine who witnessed the whole thing. It appears there once was an exceptionally crabby waking-up bear, so crazed by lack of food, that he plowed right through the side of the farmer’s barn to snatch a new born lamb.
I didn’t know whether my particular bear had taken a correspondence course from his Maine cousin covering the art of plowing through windows and walls. I did know I wasn’t particularly interested in standing in for the lamb. In other words, I didn’t want to upset him. And I admit that I was freaked out. (You do remember that I was alone?)
Creeping downstairs in the dark (so as not to startle Mr. Bear and alert him that I was watching), I peered out the dining room window and immediately leapt back.
Sprawled underneath the window, with his face buried in the spilled birdseed and hoovering it up, lay a fully grown male bear. A good size specimen. At least I assume it was a male, as it was alone. A female would most likely have had cubs with her. Females also don’t tend to come out of the dens until later in the spring.
I beat a retreat upstairs. I am sure I was fine; after all there was a house wall and a double pane window between us. The thing was that my bear was so close, if I had leaned out of the window, I could have stroked it. And, as I think I have said, I was alone.
The thought of grabbing a gun crossed my mind – but only briefly. Even in my startled state I could count the number of “bad things” that I would find myself explaining:
- hunting without a license,
- shooting a bear out of season,
- discharging a firearm in town,
- discharging a firearm less than 500 feet from an occupied dwelling,
- discharging a firearm less than 150 feet from a paved road.
And that’s just off the top of my head. I have no doubt that when the game wardens showed up and really got down to it, the list would grow.
Then there’s the mess of it all, and to compound that, I would probably have every coyote within 100 miles (and there are a lot of them) gathering for an impromptu party outside the window. No doubt they would howl their appreciation all night.
Sherlock Holmes occupied me until well after midnight. Even though my ears almost fell off with the strain, there didn’t appear to be a return to the scene of the crime.
The next day when The Hunter came back, he found me tired and cranky. He was impressed by the size of the paw marks in the snow. “Wow, what a beast,” was, I believe, his comment. And with daylight (and somebody else around), I could kind of relax and appreciate it.
I was hoping to appreciate it even more with a picture, but Mr. Bear took a route to the feeder that did not go by the trail camera. And so I am left with no birds to amuse me, and no mug shot of the intruder to illustrate this post. Life is like that.