Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Bear

There's a different quality to the silence in the wilderness. I don't know if you've ever noticed it. It's a purer, more penetrating silence than we experience in the populated areas. It gets inside your head and it clears out a lot of the cobwebs, leaving more room for introspection. It has a real calming effect on the spirit. No, it's not total silence. That can be very unnerving. It's more of an honest silence, the gentle rustling of the trees in the soft breeze, the trickling of water coming from a small spring on the side of a hill, the birds chirping pleasantly and the insects buzzing around your head.
And off in the distance, the unmistakable sound of someone, or something approaching. I crouch down quietly in the brush and check the direction of the wind. Damn! It's blowing directly towards the sound. Not good. He'll have my scent in just a moment. I reach behind into my backpack and take out the field glasses. And wonder. Moose? Elk? Bison? I catch a glimpse of the brown fur and I notice the silvery tips of the brown hairs. Double damn! Ursus horribilis...the grizzly bear.
He stops and looks up straight in my direction. He's got the scent. He probably doesn't want me, but these bears know that where there are humans, there's usually human food. I do what I've been taught to do by those who say they know. Nothing. Maybe he'll lose interest and continue on. But he continues towards me, and I reach down and pull the revolver from its holster and wait. All the while, I'm wondering why I loaded it with .38 specials. They're not going to help me all that much against this bear.
He's probably about 10 meters away now, so I stand up straight in order to back slowly away. Now his dark eyes are focused directly on me. He stops about 3 meters away and I raise the revolver so it's pointing directly at his head. Right between the eyes. It's the only chance I have. We are now frozen in time, him and me, just standing there, waiting for something to happen. I'm fascinated by his elegant beauty and power. The hump behind his head is pure muscle and the long claws are used for digging. His rump slopes downward and is much lower than his head. I look directly into his large eyes. Damn, I really don't want to hurt this guy. But if you walk in the woods, and a bear bites your butt, is it the bear's fault? He's only doing what he's supposed to do. I'm the intruder here. Now I begin to see something happening.
He's still looking directly at me, but his mouth seems different. The corners have turned upwards and I can see his teeth clearly. Is he getting ready to attack? But then I realize what is happening. His mouth has curled upward into a He turns his head slowly to the right and then again, slowly to the left. I can almost hear him thinking to himself "well buddy, I could mess you up pretty bad if I wanted to, but today is your day. Enjoy!" And he just turned and walked away.....