Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Visitor from Muskrat Creek...

Sunday... and a bit of excitement
when a black bear paid a surprise visit...

Sunday afternoon, blue skies and lazy afternoons ~ the whole family was here. A little earlier, we had been outside, but now we were sitting around the kitchen table eating ice cream bars. My sister starting gesturing wildly and sputtering something incoherent. Since she's not prone to fits, I looked around to see what the problem was. I found myself face to face with a black bear (separated only by a pane of glass). He got up on his hind legs and put his big paws on the window. I stood there with my mouth agape, as did the bear. He was barely a foot away from me and moving his head from side to side, trying to see through the glass. He was small, as black bears go ~ but on his hind legs, he stood nearly as tall as I. Black bears are comical, gangly fellow with big, clumsy claws and scruffy fur. They look deceptively harmless, like overgrown teddy bears.

The bear must have come up the bluff side ~ a small ravine about 30 feet deep that drops steeply down to Muskrat Creek. There's barely a foot or two of land between the house and the bluff, and in between it stood the bear. I have seen black bears once before, at Cades Cove; but I am not accustomed to looking straight down their tonsils! Still, I was unafraid, secure and protected within the house.

After giving up on the window, the bear wandered along the narrow path to the back yard, where he sniffed around the grill, stuck his head into a bucket and lapped up some rainwater. Rain is a rare commodity in Georgia these days. But we had a brief downpour a few days ago and Mother had caught some of it in a bucket.

We scrambled, madly looking for a camera, and the bear moseyed off toward the back woods. My niece snapped a picture just as her batteries went dead ~ I'm waiting to hear if she got the shot.

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