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Bears in the snow? by Jeff Tankersley
Time to break out the winter gear, we woke up to about six inches of snow on the ground this morning. I had to go out and shovel the walk to the shop building! It has been an incredibly nice autumn here, very mild, but we knew it had to change one of these days. Luckily, I had just finished sodding our newly landscaped lawn yesterday morning, with 'T's help.
Someone had expressed interest in the story of my first bear encounter. Well, it goes sort of like this-- I will try not to embellish.
Our house has a covered back patio, that is very comfortable due to its cooling effect on hot days, and warming atmosphere on cool evenings. I was enjoying that warm feeling one fall night a few years back (probably eleven or twelve), the first or second year in this house, just sitting in a chair, tending to my thoughts. In the time BR (before remodeling), their were actually two back doors, one to my right, and one to my left, equal distance from myself. Across the small backyard, and on the other side of a large red delicious apple tree, about thirty feet away sits the shop/garage building, which is a light green color, that blends in rather well with the surroundings. Looking from the patio at said shop building, the left end of that wall is the back corner of the building, and the right end is the front corner. At the back of the shop the ground slopes up steeply, heading up the mountain, with that hillside in a natural state, with tall grass and weeds, bushes, and rocks - perfect sanctuary for incoming wildlife.
As I had said, I was sitting alone, undoubtedly a cocktail at the ready, just enjoying a quiet evening. It was dark, probably ten o'clock. About the time I was considering heading inside, I heard a slight noise straight in fromt of me, from the direction of the shop. All sizes of deer frequent this part of our yard, and so I peered through the darkness, and the apple tree branches, to try to determine what was lurking. All I could make out was a large, dark silhouette against the shop wall. As I strained to recognize the blob, that was slowly moving to my right, it suddenly became quite appparent that this was no deer! Oh my gosh! It's a BEAR! And A LARGE BEAR, at that! Only twenty five feet away! And I am trapped! With a fence to the right, a hill too steep to run up to the left (and everyone knows that you can only outrun a bear going downhill), and the shop building, and the bear itself in front of me, it seemed as though I was doomed to the jaws of death. The mind does crazy things at times of iminent danger. I then realized that I had two possible routes of escape, the two doors into the house! But which one? Without even thinking, I jumped from my chair and yelled "HEY", and as I ran to the door on my right, the bear turned and ran away the direction he had come from.
Several revelations were made in hindsight from the safety of my abode. Bears walk through the woods and grass very quietly for their size. I don't believe the bear knew that I was sitting their at all. Bears are as uncomfortble in close proximity to us as we are to them.

In the years since, we have become accustomed to the bears being around. At one point we had a mama and her two cubs, which would play in and around the apple tree right next to our patio. She would stand on the ground and reach up into the tree to shake the apples loose, and then lay on the ground to eat them. The cubs would wander around the patio and climb the tree, sometimes getting on the roof. With large windows around our back door, it was fun to watch.

Hope all are well, and hopeful for a good outcome to John Wesley's appeal.
Love, Jeff


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