Last Seen Bearing

I've been long-accustomed to various animals crossing the drive as I go up when headed out, or come down upon my return. Deer, rabbits, wild turkey, a particularly daredevil squirrel and his or her siblings or cousins, the occasional snake, a couple of turtles. I've seen fox a few times. Brownie, my neighbor's cow, made an appearance on the drive during his one and only jailbreak.

The woods are thick on either side of the drive, and the creatures disappear quickly into the cover offered there.

Today, for the first time, it was a bear that crossed my drive as I drove home.

The black bear, not fully grown but not a cub either,  came out of the woods to the right of me, not far ahead of the car, moving fast. Very fast. I braked and stared hard but the bear was already gone, to my eyes at least, nor did I hear any sounds of his passage into the deeper woods.

Even startled and at high speed, the bear moved as gracefully and even elegantly as any wild animal I have ever seen. 

The bear was gone long before I could grab my camera, but I still got out and took a few steps into those woods -- the same woods I have walked so often without ever seeing any indication of a bear, much less the real thing.

thanks for the feast 050.jpg

But I wasn't dressed for moving through the woods, not quickly anyway, and the bear was. Besides, I'd already startled him — or her — once today, and that was enough. 

Hawk's Eyes

Robert Heinlein once noted that the high point of any freelance writer's day is checking the mail — "the low point is usually  immediately thereafter.".

True enough, but sometimes the trip home can be the best part, even when the post office box is empty.

Today was one of those days. Nothing in the PO box. But once I left the state-maintained blacktop and turned onto the stretch of private, unpaved road that we share with only four other households, I saw:

  • A neighbor's flock, the spring's lambs now large and  independent.

  • Another neighbor's fine garden, best in the area, now shifting to toward fall production; earlier this summer they had the best stand of sunflowers I've seen in ages.

  • A startled deer moving so fast across the road and into the trees that I was convinced that this one, this time, was going to drive herself headfirst into a tree and knock herself unconscious. Didn't, of course.

  • A brace of decidedly unstartled wild turkeys who actually stopped at the lip of the forest that borders the road, cocked their heads, and stared at me until I was nearly upon them. Even when they did move into the woods they did so nonchalantly, at their own pace. Neither I nor my car was going to ruffle theirfeathers.Not today, anyway.

  • A hawk, a beauty, slicing fast through open air in pursuit of something, and disappearing into the woods.

  • Four pools of standing water on our road. I had noticed them on the drive out, I;m sure, but they hadn't quite registered. It's been so long — two months at least — since we've had enough rain to saturate the ground sufficiently to allow a puddle to stand. Even the heaviest of the very few rains we've had since spring disappeared into the ground as soon as they fell. But the remnants of Isaac, here for the last three or so days, has dropped enough rain slowly enough that we have puddles again. Not so much, thankfully, to was out any of my steep driveway, nor to super-saturate the two boggy spots down here at the farm that are the bane of delivery trucks during rainier seasons.

  • Green — everywhere green: another gift from Isaac.

  • More butterflies of more varieties than I can recall in recent years.

And at the bottom of the drive, the first glimpse of this old barn which is our home — and I saw as well, as always, ten thousand things that need to get done and that I need to get to doing.

Which I believe I will, right now, with the sun out late in the afternoon for the first time since last week.

I love this little farm.

I love living here.

Especially when my eyes are opened.




Dan Smith September 5, 2012 at 5:20 PM

Nice piece, man. I can see it all.

Dan Smith

Fortunate Traveler September 6, 2012 at 8:39 PM

I love your words.