Posted by: ladybughugs | November 24, 2008

…BEARS, oh my!

Way back in May 1997, six months after we moved to our first home in Pennsylvania, the company I’d been temping for let us out early the Friday leading into the Memorial Day weekend. We’d been working some crazy-busy hours trying to make up time in the production schedule.

I was born and raised in the New York City metropolitan area. New Yorkers don’t waste time. If you’re from New York you know what I mean. If you’re not, you’d recognize a New Yorker by their frustration at the speed by which normal activities take place. Nothing ever happens quickly enough for a New Yorker. All this to say, crazy schedules don’t phase me. I’ve learned to thrive under pressure. At this point, though, I’d been working under a lot of pressure for over six months. An extra half-day in front of the long, holiday weekend was a welcomed break.

I arrived home that afternoon–it was a glorious spring day–warm, sunny, the sky was blue, the air was sweet. The first thing I did was open the two windows on either side of the French doors leading out to the deck to let in some fresh air and then collapsed onto the sofa facing the doors. Before I had a chance to take two deep breaths a black bear cub appeared before me outside on the deck. It had climbed up the steps on the front side of the deck. Then there was another. And another! I watched in disbelief as the mama bear appeared, following close behind them. Trying to stay calm and keep my wits about me I jumped up and closed the windows…mama could take those screens out with her breath! We’d been warned by our neighbors about the presence of bears in the area. This was the first time I’d actually seen them.

The bears sniffed around a bit and then went off the deck using the back stairs. I grabbed the camera and followed their progress inside the house taking pictures from the windows. The pictures were terrible. The camera kept focusing on the screens and all I got was a black blur. I was able to get a couple of distance shots from the front of the house when they were around the side. They were taken from so far away you could hardly see anything.

In the next several years we’d see evidence that we were sharing the land with the bears. There would be garbage cans overturned or even removed to neighboring property, bird feeders emptied in the woods behind the house, and wrought-iron feeder posts bent more than 90 degrees. We were careful, but we didn’t take every precaution all the time. We’d put the feeders for the birds out in the coldest months, figuring the bears were hibernating. H would move the garbage cans from the garage to the curb on his way out to work in the morning, at 3:30. The bears would raid them before the garbage truck arrived.

While cautious, we weren’t panicked. We didn’t live in fear and we didn’t move because there were bears in the area. In fact, it was one of the things I’d miss about Pennsylvania. We felt that the land we were living on was theirs before it was ours. We could share.

The neighborhood we moved to in New Jersey was much less rural. Wild turkeys in the back yard were no longer ‘normal.’ The outer areas of the community back up to woodland, home to all kinds of wildlife, including Ursus americanus, or the American Black Bear. Notices about deterring the bears from getting too close routinely run in our newsletter. Bear-proof trash containers are available to those who prefer to keep the bears out of their garbage rather than clean up after them.

In the years we’ve lived here we’ve heard of bear sightings, some just down the street from our house, but we’ve never seen them ourselves. Until yesterday…

To be continued…



  1. did you get bear’d? Did your PA bears find you? I remember those pics from PA… you should post some. Your house in PA was so pretty and woodsy.

    I have no idea where those pictures are anymore. I’m fairly certain they weren’t digital, in any case. ~lbh

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