Last evening around 9 or so I heard a terrific crash outside the cabin. It sounded like something big banging on the aluminum porch roof. When I investigated, there on the front porch practically seated on the stoop right outside the door sat a black bear cub, maybe eight weeks old or so. S/he was not alone. Another cub and mama were climbing the round log posts supporting the porch roof. As I watched, mama swatted idly at first one then the other two bird feeders, batting them free to fly across the yard. She bit the thistle feeder neatly in half, and the cubs scampered up to grab pawfuls of seed to stuff into their mouths while she sauntered across the yard to the large wooden feeder screwed solidly onto a metal base. One swipe and it flew free, cracking to pieces that landed all the way down in the orchard.
In an effort to send them away, I flashed the porch light on and off and rushed back and forth inside the glass door banging pots and pans as loudly as I could. They seemed hardly to notice until the cinnamon-colored cub came closer to peer in door while my anxiety soared over that single pane of glass separating me from them. Mama was big, probably at least two hundred and fifty pounds, and she deftly removed the lids from the trash cans and sorted carefully through the debris, eating only what suited. There was nothing to be done except to hope they stayed outside and eventually went away.
Sometime during the night, the cubs climbed onto the tiny front porch and dismantled the feeders there while mama obliterated two enormous half-rotted tree stumps inside the orchard fence. So much for fencing! It stood undamaged and ineffectual. She was still busy smashing and grabbing fistfuls of slugs as the sun rose and the cubs slept, their paws spilling over the edge of the little front porch. When they woke, the cinnamon climbed swiftly down, but the little black cub clung forlornly to the railing apparently afraid to drop the twelve or so feet to the ground.
The family assembled beneath that little porch, and I went outside to stand above them banging pots and screaming at the top of my voice. Perhaps they were bored with my noise or maybe it was their bedtime, but they finally dashed off, sailing deftly beneath the orchard fence into the woods down toward the road. Five or ten minutes later though, the three came sauntering, yes, fairly swaggering, up the hill above the drive. No rush. No hurry. Not a care in the world as they strolled up into the deeper woods.
Unnerved by how little effect my noisy presence had on them, I almost imagined them turning to wave goodbye and say, “So long. See you soon.”
June 14, 2012