Gardening season has been exciting this year. I had a feeling my impromptu pole dance in the spring would lead to a stellar career, and I was right. This week found me head-down-ass-up in a tunnel of pea vines, belting out Broadway tunes at the top of my lungs.
A number of factors converged to produce this one-of-a-kind entertainment extravaganza. In the first place, I didn’t plan my garden well. In spring when there was nothing but tilled soil, it looked as though there was all the room in the world between rows.
There wasn’t. The peas overran their trellises and joined hands in fellowship above the (now obviously inadequate) space between the rows.
Fine. It’s awkward to pick peas, but lush growth is the kind of garden “problem” I can happily accept.
The second factor is that our garden is out in the middle of nowhere, only a couple of miles from a vast forestry reserve.
Last week I was out there when a cloud of dust and loud rattling announced the approach of a vehicle. Moments later a truck appeared, towing a large cylinder on a trailer. In block letters on the cylinder were the words ‘BEAR TRAP – KEEP BACK 10M”.
Last year a grizzly killed two horses on the farm north of us. And I thought, “This can’t be good.”
The truck paused at our corner before continuing west. That road dead-ends only a couple of miles past our place.
This really wasn’t good.
So when I went out again a couple of days ago, I was cautious. The path to our garden winds through heavy spruce and aspen forest, and after I parked my car in our campsite clearing, I let out a few shouts of greeting: “Hello, Mr. Bear! I’m going to the garden now! Yep, down this path! Through the woods! Scary human being here! Time for you to move on!”
I strapped on my canisters of bear spray and stood debating whether it would be less embarrassing if the neighbours caught me loudly talking to myself in the woods, or singing really badly. Singing won by a small margin.
I don’t know how rock stars manage to sing while jumping around on stage. Granted, I have a crap voice, but I thought I was in pretty good shape. Singing nervously and strolling through the woods to give the bear an opportunity to get out of the way, I was pathetically out of breath by the time I got to the garden. Which made me sound even worse than usual.
The 8-foot deer fence around the garden won’t repel a determined bear, but it should prevent him from accidentally wandering through, so I went inside and promptly shut the hell up because even I couldn’t stand my singing by then.
That is, until my neighbour drove over to warn me they’d caught one grizzly a mile west of us, were fairly certain a second was still at large, and there had been a number of black bears in the area, too.
I abandoned all pretense of dignity.
And this happened:
I’m not proud of my performance, but I didn’t see a bear, either. If there was one in the vicinity, he was probably too incapacitated by laughter to maul me anyway.
Anybody else have a bear tale?