Bear in the Yard

Today, as promised, no Pinterest tutorials.  No recipes.  Nothing of any value whatsoever.

Just a story.

bear1So this past weekend, my cousin came to visit.  Erinn grew up in Buffalo, lived in London for a couple years, and Manhattan for a couple more.  She’s a world traveler, has taken trapeze lessons, deep sea dives, and pretty much leads an extraordinary life.

Which means that when she comes to visit me, I put her to work in the yard.  Hey, no sense in trying to out-glamorous her, right?

So there we were, Ken, Erinn, and I, clearing 40 years’ worth of unchecked pokeweed and virginia creeper and bittersweet vine from a large area of the backyard.  It was hot, sweaty, backbreaking work, and I alllllmost felt guilty for asking my guest to help out.


The baby was down for a nap, and the other five kids were playing with the neighbor boys, running through the woods between our yards and the walking trail.  Suddenly, Lotus burst out of the forsythia brush, eyes so huge I could see the whites all the way from where I was, and yelled, “BEAR!  MOMMY, DADDY!  THERE’S A BEAR DOWN HERE!”

My cousin turned to me, eyes almost as huge as Lotus’, like a deer caught in the headlights.  “A bear?”  she said, in disbelief.  I nodded.

Ken told Lotus to go grab her brothers and get in the house, while I ran around getting a headcount.  No Jude.  Where was Jude?  Ken ran down toward the trail where the bear was spotted, looking for Jude, while I ran around to the side yard.  Kids were scattered everywhere, scrambling for the house like ants.

Reports came back that Jude was found, sneaking in some Minecraft time while everyone was supposed to be outside playing.  I demanded visual proof, and his little head guiltily popped up in the window.  “Sorry, Mama,” he said.  I waved, then ran down to the path to find Ken.

When he saw me, he pointed at the bear.  It was the size of an adult female or a juvenile male.  Its ears had been twice tagged, and a GPS collar was around its neck.  Clearly, this was a bear what had been in contact with humans before.

It turned and moved with its slow, swinging walk up the trail.  Once it was a good distance ahead, Ken started running up the trail after it, yelling loudly, “Bear!  Bear!  If you’re on the trail with your dog, watch out for the bear!”  Our neighborhood has a system of walking trails running through it, and they travel through woody, brushy areas where visibility is not good.  With that bear walking down the path like he owned the place, someone could turn a corner with little Fido and come face-to-face with ursus americanus.


While my fool husband was chasing after a bear, I turned and walked back to the house, telling the kids it was safe to come out, and looking for my cousin, who had vanished.  She wasn’t in the house.  Where could she be?  I mean, she’d looked pretty shaken up by the bear sighting, did she go and hide?

Finally, after a couple of minutes, I found her, hunched over in the brushy area we’d been clearing.

“Hey,” I said.  “What’s going on?  Ken’s up the trail, warning anyone who’s got dogs out.  What are you doing?”

She straightened, turned, and held out a rake.  “I’d thrown it on the ground when we were rounding kids up.  I didn’t want it to get lost in the brush.”

World travelers, man.  Nothing rattles them, and they sure know the importance of good gardening equipment.


    • Cari says

      She was so scared. She had been just sitting on a hill, and the bear came out of the woods the other kids were running through. She said it was about 20 feet from her, turned, looked at her, and then sort of forgot she was there.

  1. Mitzi says

    This is a GREAT story! I was sure you were going to find Erinn passed out or being sick – which is what I would be doing. Her code name has got to have “Nerves of Steel” or “Stone Cold” in it, right?

  2. Tori says

    Bear stories are the best. I’m impressed that Ken made sure to warn other residents of the visitor! We’ve had a few bear encounters while camping. Once, a black bear ambled through the site across the road from ours and we were all ordered into the van. My mom smacked my brother’s head pretty hard on the top of the door in her haste to get in. But the best is when a bear came into our campsite in the middle of the night and my aunt tried to cut an escape hole in the back of the tent with a pair of nail clippers.

  3. says

    What a story! I would’ve come screaming out of that woods so fast! I probably wouldn’t have even had my head on straight to find all my kids and head count. As for going back outside to rake, heck with it. I’d be inside for the rest of the day. A few weeks back we had two baby fox in our front yard for a few days. I wasn’t going to let their cuteness fool me, nope, they were definitely going to attack us and eat us alive if we were outdoors. Husband assured me they wouldn’t, but you never can trust a baby fox now can you? Yes, I’m a scaredy pants.

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