Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Go Away Bear!
While walking in the forest with Pooka the puppy yesterday afternoon, I heard news of a bear spotted up ahead along our path home.
My heart skipped a beat.
Anticipating running into this almighty creature, my mind raced back to childhood days, growing up in the Yukon and what had been taught in school if we happened upon a bear.
Think Angie, think. What do I do?
Juvenile recollections surfaced.
Run away as fast as you can? No!
Climb a tree? Nope!
Jump in the water. Bears can't swim, right? No, of course they can!
Stop, drop and roll!!!! Yes!!!!! Wohoo, I figured it out!!
Wait a minute, no that's for fires!
Lord, why can't I remember!
My mind frantically scrambled for the answer as I continued along the path.
Out of nowhere, I chanced upon a First nation man and his two children. Hesitating, I asked if they had seen a bear along the way. No, the man replied and carried on towards the river.
Wishing I had contended for help, I second guessed my intuition of trouble and slowly move on towards my journey's end. Tears trickled down as I walked. Having left my belongings behind, reality set in. No cell phone, no money to make a call and no a clue of what to do. Panicking and imagining the worse case scenery, an Angie sandwich, I chose to turn around and not walk this path alone.
Miraculously, the Native man and I crossed paths again. This time he must of sensed my fear. Blond hair perfectly manicured, a fashionable summer dress, city shoes and small dog, didn't exactly give off the appearance of a women ready to face a giant beast of the forest. He asked if I would like him to accompany me.
With a great sense of relief I replied yes and we proceeded back down the path.
Still frightened, I made small talk to ease my nerves and asked the protocol for seeing a bear. He said to stop, make tons of noise and walk backwards creating the impression of a larger you.
Suddenly the man interrupted himself and shouted, "STOP! There is the BEAR!"
OOHHHHHHH MMMYYYYY GOOODDDDDDDDDDDDDD!!
Five feet ahead of us stood the bear, a yearling, heading towards the river. He was still young, about the size of a large dog but extremely powerful and unpredictable.
"GO AWAY BEAR!," the man shouted.
"GO AWAY BEAR!," clapping his hands with authority.
I stood petrified and in disbelief.
The bear sniffed the earth, looked our way then scooted up ahead into the bushes. He was gone. Completely shocked and unnerved we persisted towards my destination, silently praying for safety.
As we crossed the small wooden bridge the man howled again, "GO AWAY BEAR!"
The curious yearling had come back for a second gander. I had reached my maximum and was TOTALLY freaked out, almost hyperventilating, as the bear watched us watching him.
"GO AWAY BEAR!"
"GO AWAY BEAR!!"
"GO AWAY BEAR!!!"
With one final thunderous clap, the bear ran away. This time for good.
The man escorted me to the forest clearing and helped detangle Pookas' leash from the woodland bramble. Beaming with excitement and gratitude, I thanked the man, hugged him and exclaimed he was the hero of the day!
He smiled modestly, said you're welcome then left.
After this unforgettable experience, a wise friend advised me to research the meaning of bears in the Native community.
Here is brief explanation from the, "What's your sign" website.
"Native American Bear Meaning - A quick list of keywords summoned by the tribal mind:
Because the bear is cautious, it encourages discernment to humankind. Because of a fierce spirit, the bear signals bravery to those who require it. Because of its mass and physical power, the bear stands for confidence and victory. Because it prefers peace and tranquility (in spite of its size), Bear calls for harmony and balance."
Yesterday, I experienced my very first encounter with a black bear. Memorable, frightening and exhilarating today, I look at the episode as a blessing. What an honor to be in arms length with such a dynamic animal.
Seeing the bear was an omen. A way to teach me some important rarefied lessons.
Be prepared when walking alone in the forest.
Or the city for that matter. Bear mace is an excellent arm against humongous, furry fauna as well as hulking, dangerous thieves.
Accept help when it is offered in a kind and sincere manner.
Most people genuinely possess good intentions and do not wish harm or injury on others.
Trust your intuition.
Heart pumping, adrenaline racing, hands shaking and body sweating is a pretty good indication that danger lies ahead.
Happy trails to you!