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?
35 thoughts on “‘Scuse My Bear Behind”
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Due to the frequency of human-bear encounters, the B C Fish and
Wildlife Branch is advising hikers, hunters, fishermen, and any persons
that use the out of doors in a recreational or work related function to
take extra precautions while in the field.
We advise the outdoorsman to wear little noisy bells on clothing so as
to give advance warning to any bears that might be close by so you don’t
take them by surprise.
We also advise anyone using the out-of doors to carry “Pepper Spray”
with him in case of an encounter with a bear.
Outdoorsmen should also be on the watch for fresh bear activity, and
be able to tell the difference between black bear feces and grizzly bear
feces. Black bear feces is smaller and contains lots of berries and
squirel fur. Grizzly Bear shit has bells in it and smells like pepper.
LOL! Yep, every time I pick up my bear spray canister, I think of that joke and wonder if I’m just providing the bear with some yummy seasoning.
“Hey, Ben, is that pepper spray I smell?”
“Right on, George, we’re havin’ Cajun tonight!”
At least you picked a good song?
I do love that one. When I think of Hello, Dolly, I see Barbra Streisand’s performance in my mind’s eye, but I actually have an absolutely charming recording of Louis Armstrong and Velma Middleton singing it. They were so playful – that version always makes me smile.
I hate to take away your only defense, but how do you know bears don’t like show tunes? Or really, really hate them?
By the way, we do the same thing with our garden every single year. We plant things too close together, even though we think that this time we’re leaving plenty of room. We also have fruit trees that are way too intimate.
I loved this: “…so I went inside and promptly shut the hell up because even I couldn’t stand my singing by then.”
Thanks, Charles! You’re right; I did consider the possibility that bears might be music connoisseurs and I’d simply enrage them with my off-key serenade. But the alternative was a monologue from Monty Python, and that just didn’t seem like a good idea at all: “Wot’s ‘e going to do, nibble my bum?”
Hi Diane, That was a great story! I know how it feels when out in the woods and you think a bear is near. Sometimes I’ve smelled where they’ve been and it’s not a good feeling. I was on a group trip one time getting ready to climb Mt. Whitney in Calif. It’s the tallest mountain outside of Alaska in the USA. We arrived at the base camp at 8500′ and were greeted by signs and photos about being safe around bears. Some of the pictures showed cars that a bear might have even “thought” he saw something to eat inside. They were ripped open as if someone had used a giant canopener. Very reassuring. The following night our camp was invaded by a mother bear and her cub who got caught up in a tree above our tent. She wouldn’t leave until he could climb down the next morning. Ever have a night that you might like to get up to use the facilities? Well, we just decided to wait and take our chances. We backpacked on up the moiuntain the next morning and were grateful to know that bears don’t like it up out of the treeline where we camped at 12,000 ft. Made it to the top inspite of the fact that we had cold instant oatmeal and no coffee, white gas stoves don’t work up there, who knew? Peggi
Wow, what an experience! Not just the bears, but the entire climb. I don’t think I’d even be able to breathe at 12,000 ft. I’m breathing hard just downhill skiing at 8,600 ft here in the Rockies – and that’s going down, not up. 😉 I’m glad you made it up and down unscathed, with a great story to tell!
We don’t have bears, but I sing loudly in my car when I’m driving alone in case there are any kidnappers hidden in the back. This seems easier (and probably much more effective) than actually checking for the kidnappers before I get in the vehicle and start driving, for some reason.
Aha. It’s a strategy. It should work – after all, in the movies, nothing bad ever happens until the victim turns and looks, right?
I grew up in the National Parks. In Riding Mountain, a bear trap was put out as a sow and her cubs were ravaging the garbage cans and wandering through the cabin area. We caught the sow in the trap and her twin cubs were up a tree. My Dad sent one of the wardens up a ladder to try and poker the cubs down to a point where we could grab them. I got one behind the ears and the little bugger was able to squirm around enough to sink his teeth into my thumb and give it a good cut. We got both of them into burlap sacks, loaded into the back of a warden’s pickup with mom in tow and headed into the bush. Needless to say Mom, wasn’t amused with her young ones bouncing around in the bed of the truck. We let them loose first and they headed to the nearest tree and then let mom out. She headed in the opposite direction. All ended well except for my thumb. 🙂
Wow, that’s far closer to a bear than I’d ever like to come! The cute, cuddly cubs scare me more than the adults, because if I see a cute, cuddly cub, I know cranky Momma isn’t very far behind. You must have had a fascinating childhood growing up in the Parks – what a wonderful gift!
I can totally picture this! And I’m laughing out loud! I bet those peas taste even better now!
They are sweet indeed! 😉
Ooo..that sounded dangerous!! The bears in the area…not your singing 😉 Unless if I was a bear….hmmm?
I like the way you described your garden too…the trees and all!
So did they catch the other bear?
LOL! The singing isn’t quite as dangerous as the bears. They still haven’t caught the second grizzly, so I’ll probably be serenading the forest again this weekend. Hope the bear doesn’t come over and smack me just to make me shut up. 😉
Ahahahaha! Oh no…I so hope it didn’t!!!!
Hey…maybe it might want to do a duet with you….from a far of course 😉
I worry about skidding on a banana slug. Your place must be awesome.
It’s just a little square of forest with a strip of garden at the edge, but I love being out in the middle of nowhere. Except for the bears. They definitely take the fun out of it.
Huh. Your blog just told me my last comment “could not be posted.” And it wasn’t even dirty this time, I swear!
Argh! WordPress has been so stupid lately. It gives me that message, too, on an entirely random basis. Sorry about that, and thanks for trying again. (Too bad it wasn’t a dirty comment, though). 😉
Does your singing scare away just bears, or does it frighten all of nature?
Any of nature that has ears and a means of escape. I pity the trees – they’re rooted to the spot.
Do you think I could use bears as an excuse for my loud, terrible singing in my oh-so suburban garden?
Absolutely. One can’t be too careful. And I’m impressed with your courage – I’m far too chicken to risk being overheard. 😉
Singing to repel bears works!
One time we were camping in Southern Alberta when we came across a lovely large patch of ripe, juicy Saskatoons. You just can’t let an opportunity like that pass you by. Unfortunately the area was freshly trampled and several (almost!) steaming piles of bear poop littered the area. We tied the dogs to a tree – for bait! – and for the next 3 hours I was hysterically babbling and singing at the top of my lungs, every song I could think of several times over. We picked a cooler full of yummy berries, which Hubby immediately turned into a batch of wine. T.S., bear!
You’re a braver woman than I. Even fresh saskatoons wouldn’t be enough to tempt me. But you undoubtedly sounded good doing it – I’m still enjoying the CDs from your rock-star days! 🙂
You really must start providing video clips of your antics. I promise I won’t put it on You Tube…
Happily, no bear stories for me!
Why am I innately suspicious of any promise that contains the word “YouTube”…?
As you should be…
After my husband and I moved into our new house last month, the first thing my neighbor told me is he saw a bear outside his front window a few months ago. I thought he was kidding until a few days later, my husband, who was out on our back deck, called, “Honey, come out here!” I ran outside, and he said he saw a bear running down the street. We both cautiously walked down the street, (not in any big hurry) but I guess the bear had already made it to the forest at the edge of our neighborhood. Our backyard abuts a heavily treed area, and our compost pile is right next to the fence. We make a point of not going in the backyard after dark. Anyway, I’m hoping the skunks will keep the bears away, because I’m sure my neighbors would not appreciated my “singing.” I’ve smelled them (the skunks) on more than a few occasions.
Yikes! I don’t dare have a compost pile or even grow fruit out there. I’ve never met a bear up close and personal, and I’d really like to keep it that way.