Tuesday, November 20, 2007


(Each "Featured Question," an idea which I gleaned from A Republic If You Can Keep It, will remain toward the top of the blog until the next question appears. The previous QUESTIONS are HERE. Please scroll down for recent postings)

Not so long ago, I had a bit of an animal adventure when a squirrel invaded the cellar here. Read the posting and the comments about my encounter with the squirrel. The entire episode was stressful and harrowing! Who knew that a squirrel could be such a terrifying beast?
I've had a few other encounters with wild animals. All of them ended well. After all, I'm still here, unscarred and unscathed!

My encounter with a black bear was, no doubt, the most threatening of my interactions with wildlife. One early morning, in one of our national forests in southwestern Virginia, I decided to get some exercise by taking a long walk; Mr. AOW was still snoring in the camper. I went out alone into the woods, never imagining that I'd be dashing back to camp within a few hours.

The sun had barely risen when I headed out. As I trudged along, the woods got deeper and deeper, with the sunlight barely peeking through the dense canopy.

Well toward the end of my hike, I came to a lovely stand of hemlock trees. There I spotted evidence of bear activity: stump after stump torn apart for grubs. I hiked on, a little faster now, and in a clearing fairly close to camp, spotted a large black bear on the opposite side.

The bear and I started walking toward one another, neither of us breaking to run away from the other. All I could think was "What if I'm between a mother and her cubs?" Apparently not, because the bear was not behaving in an aggressive manner, although pointing its snout skyward so as to to get a better take on my scent. At one point the bear stood up on her hind legs, thus allowing me to see that the animal was definitely a female. I got close enough to the she-bear that I could faintly detect her gamy and musky scent.

When the bear and I were less than five yards from each other, still going eyeball to eyeball, I cut up the nectarine I was carrying, threw the pieces in a scattered pattern, and hightailed it back to camp. Upon detecting the delicacy, the bear busied herself with foraging. That foraging didn't take long, however, and within a few minutes I could hear the bear coming along behind me. Fortunately, I had a far enough lead to stay ahead.

Back at the camp site, my husband was chowing down on Sugar Pops when I approached, gasping for breath. "Bear behind me!" I panted. You never saw two people break camp and head out as fast as Mr. AOW and I did.

Do you have an interesting animal-encounter story to tell?

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posted by Always On Watch @ 11/20/2007 11:59:00 PM