Monday, June 3, 2013

Bearly Adventurous

   We've lived in Colorado for around twenty-five years. I've seen a bear twice. Now three. The first time was while having dinner at the home of dear friend's near Idaho Springs. I had the vantage point at the dining table looking out the patio doors over the hills and the road below. Lovely view. I was gazing out at the pine covered steep hillsides of the canyon, the gorgeous blue sky (there's just something better about a blue sky in Colorado), when something black on the road below caught my eye. There he was. A big ol' black bear walking across the road below the house. He headed up the hill on our side of the canyon. We enjoyed watching him until he finally found the seclusion they treasure.
   That was many years ago. This spring, many folks around our little town here in the foothills have posted on Facebook or talk at the grocery store about seeing a bear in the creek, cubs in town, momma bear with her cubs. Lots of stories.
   I figured I wouldn't get to see one. But I hoped.
   We left for Texas a couple weeks ago, and I left the hummingbird feeders up since our little visitors had returned for the summer. I wanted to encourage them to be around when I got home. My friend was watching the house and dog, but reported to me via email, that something had gotten my feeders and broke them. Hmmm...could it be?
   Well obviously it was a bear that had been in our yard while we were gone. There was bear scat, a metal shepherds hook pole bent at ground level severely, and yes the broken feeders. Not to mention signs that our dog had been - shall we say - quite startled in the house, no doubt after seeing this creature right outside the window he likes to look out of.
   At night, I started to bring the feeders in so as to not encourage the animal that this was a good restaurant to continue patronizing. But I still hoped to see him.
   One day while talking to my sister on the phone, I was wandering around the yard while we talked. Around back under the kitchen window, I spotted rather disturbing prints on the siding just under the where the feeders hang during the day.
There was no doubt what that was.
Something was peeking in the window?

   He remembered the good eats. I knew he'd be back.
   Now here in Colorado, there are news stories all the time about bears breaking into homes, homeowners hearing a noise and rushing to the kitchen to find a bear sitting on their kitchen counter eating out of the cupboards, windows completely broken into by a bear. Yogi and Boo Boo get the snacks they want. We've had trash cans spilled over and trash dragged across the street in years past. Our neighbor relayed the tale several years ago that when she came home late one night, our trash was strewn across the street and as she pulled into her drive, the big bear was settled into her front yard snacking on our leftovers not fit for human consumption. She had to wait him out to go into her house that night since not much scares them off. We never saw him.
   Another night, we had been out enjoying our hot tub, gazing at the stars, soaking away the aches of the day. Gus, our dog, had been out with us, but he usually takes his place on the steps to watch over the neighborhood. Unbeknownst to us, a visitor was on the other side of our house. The dog didn't even know.
   We finished our soak, went in and settled in to watch the news before bed. Ron heard a noise, jumped up, ran for the side window (opposite from the side the hot tub is on). Thinking it was probably another raccoon getting into trouble, we were surprised to look out at the extremely large furry back end of our nocturnal visitor. Between us and the neighbor, huge flashlights scared him off. The yelling and pounding on the window, not so much.
   There is a metal trash can out there. We found large dents in each side of the can. The bear must have figured it was another special "pick-i-nick" basket and had learned a special way to open them by slamming his paws into the sides. He had to have been surprised by the face full of woodstove ash that no doubt covered him.
   So back to the original part of this story.
   Ron had gone to bed the other night, I stayed up to do some work on the computer. *BANG* Something slammed against the kitchen window. Uh oh...
   I ran to the kitchen, opened the blinds, but it was way too dark to see. I figured the light coming out would startle it away. So I ran to the dining room window and in the faint porch light, I saw him! Lumbering across the yard like it was his.
   My heart began a whole new beat.
   He checked out the empty feeder, walked over to the three person swing and rubbed his side against it. I gathered up my courage, which was waning fast, stepped out onto the porch and yelled at it hoping to scare it off. Funny thing about a 150 pound (or so) bear, they don't scare easy.
   He turned to come toward me. I rapidly ducked back into the house. When he turned away again, I stepped out, grabbed my dog's tennis ball and pitched it over at him. I missed.
   He proceeded into the darkness of the corner of the yard. I could hear the chain link fencing wiggle and clank against the poles, knowing he was working on climbing over it. That's when it struck me....why don't I have my camera? Okay, okay, so the excitement sort of made my brain take a break, what can I say. By the time I got it and returned to the scene, he was marching across the neighbors porch, while I prayed she wouldn't open the door about that moment.
   I finally got to see a bear. With my heart rate at that moment and the annoying shaking of my limbs, I remembered that saying, "Be careful what you wish for". But I was glad I got to see the culprit. Needless to say, Ron got woken up by his anxiety filled wife with a tale to tell.
   Ron and I stayed up the next night, waiting. I was sure he'd be back. It had already become a habit.
   No bear.
   He hasn't been back to our knowledge, but I will continue to bring in my feeders at night which I'm doing too early judging by the diving attacks by hummingbirds as we take them in. I just really prefer taking on the kamikaze birds over a large bruin with long claws.
Yep, that would leave a mark.

Closest picture I could find of what I saw. He was about
this size.