Hey bear!

I awoke early this morning, and in typical Marieke fashion could not fall asleep for the anxious thoughts that kept running down the list of things I needed to get done over the course of the day. Here I am, living in the thick of wildness, yet I am still plagued by these stresses. After feeble attempts to quiet the mind and get a few more, much needed hours of sleep under my belt, I gave up, pulled my laptop onto the bed, and started down the list. With a couple breaks to run to the laundry room, make coffee, and join a conference call for school, I eventually wended my way through the murky waters to the light at the end of the bureaucratic tunnel.

A benefit of life here in Southeast Alaska is that I have only to look out the window to allow wildness to distract me from my humanly concerns. Yesterday evening, while watching a movie with my housemate, I looked out the window to see a tiny black bear cub come bounding onto the boardwalk in front of our house.

Despite the warnings I have always shared with visitors to never approach bear, especially a cub, my housemate and I went bounding ourselves out onto the front porch to get a closer look. I call this phenomenon “natural selection”. I had just uttered the question “where is mom”? when along came mom walking slowly as only a tired mother could, up the gravel path between ours and our neighbors’ house. She took one look at us, and we snapped back to predator-prey reality and slipped back inside. I did step back out to call out “hey bear” and clap my hands. A habituated bear may be a treat for us camera-happy humans to photograph and relish in the rare opportunity for intimate observation, but things can get out of hand quite quickly. All one has to do is leave a door open or food in the back of a truck. There is a reason the term “a fed bear is a dead bear” was created. Just as I was musing over the whereabouts of the second baby, along it came in full force around the corner of the house. Both my housemate and I shreaked, sending it running in the opposite direction. We ran back inside and watched baby cautiously wander up to the boardwalk in search of mom. The happy reunion took place in the forest just in front of our house, and though we did open the door, we kept our feet placed firmly on the kitchen tiles where they belong.

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