Bearing up to the call of the wild

It’s long been a dream of mine to not be eaten by a bear. This hasn’t been a difficult dream to fulfill since I have always resided, quite smugly, in a state that claimed to have no bears beyond the zoo and an occasional misplaced Chicago football fan.

This is why people live in the Buckeye State. Family ties, good college football and the fact that it’s difficult (not impossible but you really have to try) to be fatally injured by nature. We don’t have any of the really good poisonous spiders, snakes, or scorpions not to mention a complete absence of lions, tigers and bears. Until now.

In the past weeks our region has been besieged by near constant bear sightings. From one end of three counties to the other, people breathlessly report on the presence of another bear.

I didn’t think much of it when the spottings were based entirely on fuzzy, out of focus snapshots taken from acres away. Once photos started appearing of bears not only seen from afar, but cavorting on suburban patios as if awaiting cocktail hour, I realized that we do indeed have bears in Ohio now. Et tu Mother Nature?

Spotted

All my neighbors and friends are crazy in love with the idea of the bear. When one friend shared a bear sighting online, others begged her not to share the location for fear people would come out and bother the bear.

I think we all know that “bother the bear” is never, ever a good idea. I watch Discovery Channel. Angry bears will eat you. Where, pray tell, are the mobs concerned about the bears bothering me? We can all concede that with our track record it is only a matter of time until a bear shows up here.

I wish no harm on wildlife. They are welcome to live in peace and harmony in the great outdoors. I am not outdoorsy. I am indoorsy. Our paths will rarely cross. It’s better for all involved that way.

Unfortunately pretty much all of Mother Nature disagrees with me on this. There is just something about me that compels the great outdoors to try to come indoors pretty much all of the time. I don’t get it. I am not welcoming in the least. Is screaming, flailing and panic somehow “come on in and stay a while” in wilderness speak? Bats, birds, bees and mice — if it is supposed to live outside, it probably has come inside at my house on more than one occasion.

Nemesis

Up until the bears showed up, I thought my latest nemesis was bunnies. Fluffy, hopping, sometimes seen toting Easter basket bunnies. Don’t let them fool you. There is no Easter Bunny. No rabbit could handle the sheer amount of organization and multi-tasking required for the job. Bunnies are dumb as posts.

A few weeks ago our driveway became populated, seemingly overnight, with roving herds of baby bunnies. They are cute at first but it soon became apparent these bunnies felt they owned the road. We try to drive in or out of our very own driveway and the bunnies just sit there like tiny, impossibly adorable, speed bumps.

Our Pastor cracked me up his theory: “It’s like God keeps bringing you dinner and you keep swerving around it.” Yes friends, it is official. Somehow we have managed to grow a crop of wild animals with absolutely no self-preservation instinct. They sit like a buffet spread in the driveway while hawks circle hungrily overhead.

A friend said it best when she said this was proof that bunnies equal food in the natural order of things. These are sacrificial bunnies at best.

Meanwhile the residents of my region are feeling all warm and fuzzy about the possibility of their very own backyard bear. “Don’t harm it!” they say. “I just want a picture of it!” is the clamor. I say they can all get together and group hug the bear if they want but I’m not feeling it.

I have a fat black crippled dog, roaming goats, families of field mice, birds that will turn on you like a Hitchcock film if you get too close to a certain shrub, a bat that hangs on the side of my house like a seasonal ornament, and a herd of not-terribly-gifted driveway bunnies to think about here. Shoo bear. Shoo!

Meanwhile, even as I was writing this I went to bed to ruminate on it a bit only to be awakened by Girl Wonder at 4:45 a.m. insistent that something was “scratching” in her wall. I’m not sure it was helpful when I rolled over and murmured “probably just a bear honey.”

Come to think of it, if bears have any taste at all for bunnies and bats, we may be able to work out a deal.

About the Author

Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless. More Stories by Kymberly Foster Seabolt

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