I've been meaning to update y'all about our new resident Problem Bear. Let's see... to recap, I was alerted by the Cowardly Pets and looked out to see a tagged bear out in the back yard. Scared him off with the judicious use of an air horn. He punched a hole through our blackberry briars trying to get away from me.
So then four or five days later my Favorite Husband sees him in a neighbor's yard and finds him rather piteously limping. So we alerted the Neighborhood Watch (this being our neighbors, D the Hunter, and P, the Next Door Neighbor, and now W down the street, who are now on the lookout as well. W in particular because there's a passel of young children there and while most of the time black bears leave people alone you don't want some kid skipping around a corner and knocking into one, particularly if he's hurt and grouchy.
So now we're all gossipy and all like a flock of hens talking bear talk and reporting sightings as they come in. Late last week D's dogs sounded the alarm and he got his rifle out and scoped our friend circling wide around his property. D has permission from his friends at F&W to take the poor thing out if he looks like he's suffering or starving or aggressive, but he watched him for a good ten minutes and decided the fellow could still shift for himself okay. It's still berry season, although getting late, and the livin' is easy, as the Gershwins once said.
We have also heard the unhappy rumor through the Grapevine that a Certain Neighbor Who Shall Go Unnamed is--this is all hearsay, mind you--FEEDING THE BEAR OFF HIS DOORSTEP. Now THAT just really cheeses me off, should such stupidity turn out to be true. But right now rumors are a-flyin', so who knows. This same person for a while--wait, I should tell this story from the beginning.
I came home late one night, and as I'm driving through the woods--we don't have street lights out here; it's pitch black--I suddenly catch what appears to be a line of those round street reflector disks. Only instead of outlining the road or someone's driveway, they're just going straight out into the swamp. And a couple of days later I see D and I happen to mention these, and he starts roaring with laughter. Turns out a Certain Neighbor Who Shall Go Unnamed happens to be Oh Mighty Hunter ... only, the sort of inept hunter who will apparently get lost on his way to his own deer stand unless he litters the woods every three feet with these plastic reflectors.
To which I said, well, I HOPE for his sake he's smart enough to remember to put reflectors on the OPPOSITE sides of the trees, too, or someone that dully-witted is bound to get lost trying to get back to his house. (Of course Mojo, I must confess, is Cruelly Darwinian and is somewhat of the opinion that, if you're the sort who doesn't pay attention and you'll get hopelessly lost in the woods, you're the sort who probably shouldn't be in the woods in the first place. But since this is America, people have the god- and state- and federally-given right to be stupid and needlessly risk their lives and the lives of others, under the blithe assumption that Someone of Authority will come rescue them from themselves. But I digress.) My observation regarding this person's reflectors made D laugh all the harder. (He's an easy laugh, which is another reason why Mojo likes him.)
Anyway, the latest wild rumor is that O Mighty Hunter intends to bait said bear and then, in another observer's rather contemptuous grumble, "stand there on his step in his beer-stained wifebeater shirt and shoot the poor thing dead in his yard". It is perhaps a testimony to my sheltered upbringing that I didn't know what a "wifebeater shirt" was. Turns out it's a tank top, aka an "A-shirt", having no sleeves (a T-shirt being something with sleeves and hence looks like a "T"). It's the sort of thing Sonny Corleone would wear.
Which made me feel kinda bad, not so much because of the bear but because my very kind and gentle Yale-educated college-professor grandfather used to wear those type of undershirts and I always thought of them as "grandpa shirts". He was always impeccably dressed when he left the house and I only saw these shirts when he was shaving in the morning; since my Favorite Father wore regular T-shirts I always equated these A-undershirts with Grandpa. While the rest of the sordid, sordid world has apparently been thinking of them as "wifebeater shirts" all along. Another childhood memory forever tarnished by the ugliness of the world outside of Mojo's charmed circle. Oh, well, I digress.
Anyway, being the Saintlike Creature that I am, I am quick to point out to the wifebeater shirt crowd that all of this, while delicious to listen to and speculate about, is nonetheless Mere RUMOR and nobody thus far has any PROOF that anyone in the neighborhood is feeding the bear. And it certainly stands to reason, says I, in defense of this unnamed person, that NOBODY in their right mind living out here would EVER feed the bears, let alone right off of their step. Because there's getting-lost-in-the-woods-going-to-your-tree-stand stupid, and then there's let's-feed-the-bear-off-our-front-step REALLY stupid. And the Pollyanna in Mojo just won't believe anyone out here is REALLY that stupid. If they are, they wouldn't be around here for long.
So anyway, we've been all a-tizzy out here and into each other's business swapping stories about this bear so much you'd think we were all living in the same ROOM instead of having a quarter or a half mile between our houses. And yesterday afternoon--well, I'll just quote the email I sent to my Favorite Husband and to D.
"FYI, just scared our little tagged friend out of the backyard again this afternoon, maybe five minutes ago. Still limping pretty badly, not putting much--if any--weight on his near hind paw.
"I was up in the office and he walked by across the back yard, all hum-ti-tum, coming around the house and past the garden, heading toward the firepit. I again thought of getting the camera but again decided my Civic Duty was more important. So I trotted downstairs, grabbed the air horn, went out the back door and headed around the back of the house, following his path.
"He was over by the firepit by then and had stopped to see when he heard the door open. I'm pleased to say he remembered me and when he saw me come trotting around the corner with the air horn he bawled like a sissy and went humping for the woods, heading for XXXX St. I yelled at him and he ran faster. And then a toot or two on the air horn so he wouldn't forget. Got all the neighborhood dogs barking and howling.
"I felt bad for the fellow. So far he's showed no signs of aggression, and seems more than willing to treat me with respect now. So I think he's learning. I'm hoping he will continue to heal and continue to learn, and not get worse and get desperate."
To which D responded, "I think he has a good temperament and a good understanding that you are the boss over there. I think he will be fine. You are right he is just being a Bear. I hope I see him again. Keep me posted if you see him again. Great story."
D then stopped by on the way home from work to gab some more. I showed him the hole Problem Bear had punched through the briars and the path he is now making way too close to the house. We both agreed he seemed to be a laid back fellow who probably got in trouble tipping people's garbage cans somewhere, but doesn't seriously mean anyone any harm. Which is a good thing. Still, if I had my druthers I'd rather he wasn't strolling ten feet away on his way past the house. There's still enough berries out that if the big fellow can survive bear season and makes hibernation he'll be okay and probably healed by spring. But right now his job is apparently to make Mojo's life a bit more interesting....