As longtime readers of this blog know, I often post photos of furry and feathered visitors I encounter in and around my yard.
And mischievous raccoons:
And beautiful birds:
And so forth. Because I deeply appreciate wildlife and because I sometimes can’t write my way out of a paper bag, so I just post a photo, hoping I will be perceived as sensitive and artistic rather than as having writer’s block.
How’s that working, by the way?
Anyhow, both the animals and I usually benefit from our relationship: I provide habitat, food and water; they indulge my curiosity and my camera. Historically, the only problem occurs when I forget to bring in feeders in my open side yard on fall and spring nights. That’s when bears are preparing for or coming out of hibernation and have a heightened need for food at the same time natural sources have dried up or are not yet available. My bad.
This year, though, nocturnal vandalism has continued well into the summer, despite plentiful natural food. I’ve cobbled feeders back together more times than I can count, and replaced the feeder pole, which has been bent to the ground so often it finally snapped.
And this bear is unusually bold: One night, it clambered into my fenced back yard, trashing a rustic flower box planted with delicate violas and rolling face-down my small statue of St. Francis, which may have been ironic, but was probably just disrespectful, as was the ginormous pile of poop left behind. Here, I have asked Thumper to pose near the excrement, to give you a sense of scale:
But the worst of the damage happened a couple of nights ago, to the little homemade pond in my lower back yard, which used to look like this
and now looks like this
all because this big-butted bruin — apparently some youngster who is not aware of seasonal pillaging restrictions — decided a swim would be fun.
I was kvetching to a friend about this when she questioned my assumption that a bear was to blame. And it’s true that I have not actually witnessed any of this mischief, because I’m asleep when it happens.
“Did you see prints?” my friend asked.
I had to think for a second.
“Well, no, ” I said. “And I think he’s dead. But it had to have been a bear to do this kind of damage.”
Yet it doesn’t really matter whodunit. All relationships have rough spots — someone violates an understanding, encroaches on a boundary, takes advantage. So I’ll get out there soon and do what I can to repair my little pond, to set things right.
Because mostly, this relationship between me and the wild things works. And even if I never get to see that bad news bear, I still get to see this sort of beauty, almost every day: