CANADA. As those who have read TATTOO would know, I harbor a non-budging dichotomy of emotions toward bears. For the most part, I would love to encounter a bear one-on-one in the wild. But when I am close to them in the wild, I panic and hope to avoid any bear. It is that fine line between curiosity and fear.
I have attended National Park Service presentations on Grizzly Bears. I have listened to tales about hunting Polar Bears in the Artic. I have experienced jealousy toward my neighbors lucky enough to have a bear frequent their bird feeder. I watch bears play at zoos. I like bears. Finally in Canada, in British Columbia, I did see a bear, face to face and in the wild. But I was with six other people and we quickly bolted ourselves in our van. Does that count?
Once again, I found myself alone in bear territory hoping to see a bear. I had come from British Columbia. The newspaper there told how the schools in the town of Fleetwood were on bear watch. Now, I was in Vancouver. The newspaper that morning had a darker article about bears. A couple, in their 80s who had spent much time hunting in the wild, were in the news: the wife was mauled by a bear; the husband chased off the bear and went for help; when he returned, he found the bear had returned first and killed his wife!
As I lounged by the brook, listening to its steady gurgle and admiring the surrounding green, I suddenly became alert. The fresh bear scat along the path was something I had seen on other days. But now, it gave me pause. I was no longer enjoying the peace and quiet. Instead, I felt vulnerable and far away from help. I arose, and I walked and walked until I could see a road. Somehow, I still feel fond of bears.
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