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Posts Tagged ‘Bears’

20190724_183027

Many steps from house to pool.

Thirty years ago, when we built our little house in the country, we had an in-ground pool installed at the same time.

I insisted we live by water and Bill insisted on a woodstove instead of a fireplace.  It was a compromise.

The end result was a heavy-duty woodstove in the middle of the living room and a swimming pool!

As it turned out, that woodstove grew on me, maybe because it saved our lives through many a frigid winter.

And the pool meant happy memories with our son and the grandgirls, friends who visited, and our two golden retrievers who loved anything water.  Swimming in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia has always seemed to me to be the ultimate luxury.

Oh, and I forgot – there was once a horse in our pool, but that is another story.

But now (due to sheltering in place from Covid-19)  we are pretty much the only swimmers.  We invite Elsa-the-dog to join in but she is suspicious of so much water.

On July 3rd I was determined to get into the old pool and paddle around as a prelude to celebrating Independence Day 2020.  A swim would also be good for Old BigFoot.

But as enticing as it is, getting to the pool is now an enormous challenge.  Navigating all those steps is out of the question since there are many steps down, and the only other way (I thought) was walking down over uneven terrain.

Then there were the endless preparations… What to take…

  •  A water dish for Elsa.  Treats for Elsa.  A leash for Elsa.
  • Towells, walking stick (cane), suntan oil, bug repellent, sunglasses, first aid supplies.
  • How to get down there.  The pool is not far if you can walk.  May as well be to the moon for BigFoot.
  • Bill to the rescue!   “We will take the car!” said he.  And Elsa jumped into the backseat thinking it was another ride.
  • And off we went for a one minute drive around the house to wind up at the pool.

It was an unceremonious but successful arrival. 

Elsa would not even consider getting near the water.

Instead she began tentative explorations and found shady spots (to shelter in place).  In fact she found a cave under one of the big evergreen bushes where she was cool, hidden from danger, and could watch for bears in case the peeps needed protection.

BigFoot loved the swim and was already plotting how to get down there again without the mortification of being driven! 

The only concern is that Bruno-the-Bear or his sister would decide to join in, but there is always Elsa for protection.

Do you think she would emerge from her new private dog-cave-digs to scare off another bear? 

 

 

 

 

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It was 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon when Elsa-the-Dog begged to go out on the deck. She loves just looking around her “estate” from the safety of the rails and rungs.

So out we went to sit in the shade of the eaves and contemplate sudden fair weather.  Surely the wispy breeze and floods of sunshine would make us safe from the dreaded virus.

As I was about to doze off, Elsa suddenly sprang to life and trotted to a corner of the deck.  She likes to chase bumble bees and I thought that was her goal.

But then she zipped over to the opposite end and then zipped back.  She was definitely on the alert and straining to look in one direction through the rails and I too looked in that direction to see what all the fuss was about.

What I saw was a very large VERY LARGE Virginia Black Bear who was ambling along the edge of our woods.  He had obviously been at both ends below our deck and was certainly interested in my hummingbird feeder!

About the time I put this all together in my slowly emerging brain, Elsa was growling and barking, and the BIG BEAR began to run.  Thankfully, it was running away and not toward us.  Elsa kept up a loud piercing bark that I think made her seem to be a giant adversary instead of a little twerp of a dog.

And the VERY LARGE bear ran all the way out of sight and into the forest.

Thank you Elsa-the-Dog for your grand big-dog bark and for your courage in sounding the alarm.  You are my heroine!

Anyway, who said sheltering in place is not exciting?

 

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Smashed Bird Feeder Courtesy of Bruno the Bear

We lived to tell the tale of Bruno the Bear.

Last night, if you may recall, I was cowering in the back room watching Bill try to defend our home from a very BIG bear!

Really.

I estimate Bruno was over 300 pounds!

I considered that our lives were in danger but in some ways the scene at the living room bay windows was hilarious.

Bruno was pacing back and forth and looking in at Bill.

Bill was growling very loudly and swearing at the bear.  He (Bill) was also waving his arms around and snarling and making monster faces. 

My HERO!

We had the lights on at the deck so I was able to see Bruno’s reaction.

He looked a bit irked.

I should have snapped a picture but was afraid it would irk him more.  It wouldn’t take much for him to lean on a window and enter the house!

Finally Bruno decided to leave (but momentarily forgot the way he had arrived).

I think the HUGE BIG BEAR stayed visiting us for about an hour.  Maybe it was less but it felt like an hour.

Actually, it felt like a few several hours and I got dressed while Bill was playing his monster roll (just in case we had to flee and stay at a motel for a few days).

Then it got quiet and stayed quiet, and we gave up and went to bed.   Bruno must have gone on to other things.

Let us hope it will remain quiet again tonight.

Bruno also left his mark by attacking a towel rack on our deck (now hanging askew).
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Do you suppose Bruno hates horses?  Why knock things awry like that anyway?

And a neighbor reported that he tore down a birdhouse with baby chicks in it but they are still alive!

Well, our trip to Washington, DC was fraught with tension due to the monstrous traffic.  But then we returned to the peace and quiet of the Virginia countryside only to find a monster in our midst.

I have to admit Bruno was kind of cute though.  Those little round bear ears and inquisitive face.

I hope, however, that he doesn’t mistake me for Goldilocks!

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As I write this, there is a great big Virginia black bear lounging on my deck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It is 10 PM and we are at the end of a mild thunder storm.  I was sitting in the living room watching a weather program about surviving hurricanes when I heard sounds from the deck (right outside the window).

I turned on the outside light and there he is – Bruno!

He is, as I write this, ignoring the storm, but busily scratching himself and looking very content.

Bill went to check things out and said our bird feeder is now gone.  It was full of sunflower seeds.

That’s it for bird feeders!  If we survive, I will remove all feeders forever after!

Bill is spying on the bear now.  I wish I could take a picture but maybe the flash would agitate Bruno.

I am cowering in the back room wondering if we will survive the night.

To be continued.

 

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BigBruno

If you are weary of hearing about my bear visitors here in rural Virginia, I do understand.  I hope you are able to “grin and bear it.”

But I must recount the latest episode.  This time I was away from home with a friend.

We were out for lunch at a general store (and diner) in Natural Bridge Station, Virginia.  That is only a few miles from the actual Natural Bridge (an awesome sight indeed).

The Natural Bridge  is also now a Virginia State Park.

Anyway, we pulled into the driveway of the little general store and there he was – Bruno’s father! BIGBruno!

He was crossing the parking lot right in front of us.  And he went loping down an embankment to a little stream, and up the other side to cross the road into the woods.

Could I get out of othe car without fear of bodily harm?  No.

I was on the bear’s side!

Could I outrun the bear?  No.

Still having trouble hobbling around on a bad foot, but even if it was normal……. well, you get the picture.

Was I stupid enough to get out of the car (on BigBruno’s side) and slowly make my way to the diner entrance?

Yes.

And so it was.  Lunch was a breathless affair recounting the story to the hostess.  She said they had been frying bacon all morning.  Well, no wonder BigBruno was enamoured of the place!

And on the wall was this frightening image!

It looked just like him.

I still don’t know if it was a photograph or a painting, but BigBruno loomed out of the canvas as big and wild and beautiful as I could ever conjure up in a dream/nightmare.

Lunch was delicious by the way.  A very informal setting with all natural all fresh salads and sans – everything to a bear’s liking!

Another adventure in Virginia country living.

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Bruno Returns

We have had four visits in a week from Bruno the Bear.  He is beginning to resemble an old friend who drops in now and then.

On his last foray Bruno discovered the lower branches of our little pear tree were plundered by marauding deer.  We watched him standing on his back legs craning his neck looking up, up, up into that tree.

Then Bill and I watched the bear’s agile ascent.   Bruno literally “went out on a limb” and we could see the tree waving around a bit, and then he dropped to the ground to begin the harvest of shaken down pears.

I am always stunned into inactivity at the sight of a bear in my back yard.  It’s like watching a live National Geographic film only we are right here in rural Virginia!

Can you see Bruno in this photo as he was heading home to his forest?

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Making Human Friends

Have I told you I am “aquasizing?”  It’s a whole lot of jumping around in a pool and supposed to be easy on the joints.

Most of my fellow attendees quietly and even grimly follow the instructor.  There is one lady who cracks jokes at just the right moments to make us all laugh.  It’s Pauline!  She is alert, animated, beautiful, active, kind, and most of all – funny!  I have decided I have found a new friend and mentor.

Pauline even led me up a secret grassy hillside to get to the class faster from the parking lot.   A shortcut you know.  And she looked back to inquire, “Are you all right?”, as I followed her up.

And was I amazed when I learned that Pauline is 90 years old!

I love it that I have a 90 year old human friend I admire so.

Donkeys or Mules?

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There are two new additions to the neighborhood.  I think they are donkeys.  Maybe they are mules.

One is splotched colors like some horses they call “Paint” and the other is almost universally black.  Both have very big pointed ears.  They almost look like horses but you know right away they aren’t horses.  I wonder if they are mules.  Never did know the difference really.

These two are always together in the cow pasture and I believe they are there to guard the cows against coyotes (and maybe bears?).

At any rate, they look lonely even though they have each other.  I stopped to get a picture but did not capture the full effect of those big sad eyes and only got the rump of the black one.

O.K., I know I am stretching it to seek friendship from two mules.

Times like this I am grateful for those of you who stick with me in cyberspace. 

“Good friends are hard to find”.

 

 

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Friend Lunch

Dining in a Virginia Orchard

The bear came back today.  I was preparing lunch when there was Bruno having his own lunch in the “orchard.”  The orchard consists of two fruit trees that didn’t make it and one pear tree that may still be offering something edible.

Bruno is a teenager or young fella who is out on his own I think because we never see the Mama Bear.  Anyway, as I sat down for lunch I was imagining joining the kid and sharing a pear or two.

Fortunately, reason and abject fear stopped me from being mauled to death.

Shopping Delusions

I thought I finally purchased the perfect pair of jeans yesterday!

Some stores have mirrors that make things look great.  The illusion is usually fleeting. This store was like that.  Wow! I looked young and glamorous in that mirror.

And the jeans even felt good – the stretchy kind you know and high wasted like in the old days so they wouldn’t slip down below my belly button.  A bit long but I began hemming them as soon as I got home.

Well yes, they are comfy all right and I wore them all day today.  But some people (like me) don’t have the right body image for jeans.  Mine always seem rumpled and a bit too baggy (my body as well as the jeans).  Obviously, jeans should emphasize curves shouldn’t they?

Having a flat butt doesn’t help I guess.  I mean you have to have curves to emphasize them.

Yesterday’s Outing

Yesterday was a big shopping day and lunch out with my friend, Norma.  We do something exciting like that once a month.   A lot of talking goes on (stored up for four weeks).

As for shopping, I am almost overwhelmed in those big malls with so many choices. Living in small town rural Virginia you get used to limited buying opportunities.  This time my friend and I added “The Cheese Shop” in Stuart’s Draft, Virginia, for spices and nuts, dried fruits and homemade jams and jellies, and cheese of course.

We had lunch at a Thai restaurant but I missed Bruno. 

And on the way home we stopped for a frozen yogurt dessert.  It was a cool ending to a lovely day.

 

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Image from http://wildlife.org  –  Virginia Black Bear and Cub

“What is THAT” said Bill, as he stood at the kitchen window.  “WHAT?” I asked.

“THAT black thing under the tree – down there by the tractor shed,” said Bill.

And then it moved (not the tractor shed)!

The black thing looked like it was rolling in the grass.

“Maybe it’s a big dog”, I thought.

And then the black thing got up and shook itself!

“Maybe it’s a calf from across the hill from us,” I surmised.

“No,” said Bill.  It’s a BEAR CUB.”  And that indeed is what THAT was.

It looked like a big dog.  But then it loped off into the woods.

If we had any doubts before, there was no doubt as it did the loping.  It was a healthy looking robust bear cub hurrying to catch up with Mom!

But where was Mom anyway?

Our home is close by to a virtual forest primeval.

We think of it as our private Paradise incorporating a wildlife refuge filled with deer, fox, bobcats, squirrels, racoons, ground hogs, possums, all avian varieties including a resident hawk, and of course, bears.

We have seen the Virginia Black Bear more in the last two years than in the whole 27 previous years living here.

And no, we do not leave leftovers in any outside garbage.  Warning to those of you who are not bear-familiar, “Do not feed!”  Either purposely or innocently!

Once our neighbors left fish in an outdoor garbage bin.  The bear knocked it over, had a feast, and then wanted more.  He tried banging on their house to get in and our friends had to hole up in a locked interior bathroom overnight.  So no, we do not leave garbage around.

You can be sure I will not be taking long solitary walks either because where there is a cub, there is usually a mother bear who may be the over protective variety.

I am looking for a siren app on my cell phone though.

Do you think that would help?

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o-NEIGHBOURHOOD-WATCH-SIGNS-TORONTO-570There were two hummingbird feeders on our deck this week.   Now there is one.

A Dine Until Dark Curfew has been imposed on the little hummers and the one remaining feeder is taken inside when the sun goes down.

What happened?

A mystery intruder  visited and vandalized our peaceful Virginia home.

If you are interested in solving mysteries, here are the clues:

  1. A favorite old hummingbird feeder  was lying in three pieces on our deck,
  2. amid a wide swath of sticky sugar water, 
  3. replete with large animal footprints, and
  4. unidentified animal scat on the deck stairs.

“What critter (or person) could it be?”we wondered.

Bill thought it was a raccoon.  I thought a bear. Can you tell by these observations the differences in our personalities and outlooks on life?

I Googled SCAT and found some that looked like ours (NO, NOT HUMAN).  Oddly, there are actual animal “poop charts” so you can compare and identify droppings!  Somehow I find this offensive to my sensitive senses.

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Bear Scat

Anyway, that was as far as I got researching when an email came in from our immediate next door neighbors warning they had seen a mama bear and her two cubs in their back yard!

bear watch

Mystery SOLVED!  IT WAS DEFINITELY A BEAR!!!  AND A VIRGINIA BLACK BEAR WITH TWIN CUBS!!!  Well, what did I expect when we chose to live in the country – civilization?

Then a second email came  and a third.  The word is out and we have a NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH with friends sending email alerts!

  • “We saw a mama bear and two cubs in our back yard this morning.  If you think this is information that should be shared with the neighbors, would you pass it on?”  
  • “Yep! We had some work being done at our house a few weeks ago and they videoed two cubs and the mom on our property.”
  • “Also I saw them crossing the hunt road, heading up the hill into the woods between the pond and the riding ring, just like last summer. My mare has indicated their closeness to our place too. I have not viewed them there personally yet (but, she doesn’t fib).”
It is certainly comforting to know there is a Three Bears Neighborhood Watch, but having the trio on my deck borders on disconcerting!
I have a plan though.,
The trick is stay close to the front door, or the back door, or the car door.
Or if the bear gets inside – to barricade in the bathroom with my cell phone!
So much for summer walks in the woods.

 

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Hurrah!  This is not about Germany, and of course we are back in Virginia.

In spite of falling asleep at odd times for close to a week, I am semi alert and almost fully functioning.

Next:  A Family Visit

And having emerged from tracking in the footsteps of the ancients, I am  now enjoying the excitement of a visit from our son and three grandgirls.

They are volatile, young, fun, and sort of tornadic.

Black BearA Bear Stops By for a Look

To add to the excitement, a bear came for a visit too and my middle grandgirl, Kendall, fearlessly dashed out on the deck to get a picture!  The bear admired her beauty for a minute and then headed for the woods.

Celebrating Birthdays

Two of the three girls share close together birthdays, so we are celebrating those too.  Their birthday dinner request is always for Hungarian Paprikash, a kind of stewed chicken with “knuckles.”

When my brother and I were little we could not pronounce the word  Nokedli (little dumplings) so we called them Knuckles, and that stuck (the word, not the dumplings). And I still cannot pronounce Nokedli.

On a sad note:

Our old friend, Buddy died while we were in Germany and today was his Celebration of Life.  Buddy did not want us to mourn but to remember him with happiness.  We loved him so and had so many years of grand laughter and shared kindness.  The memories are many and we are grateful for that friendship and to continue it now with his daughter, Pam and the rest of his family.

Bill and Buddy

Bill and Buddy

To the Drive-in Movie

This evening our son and grandgirls are headed for Hull’s Drive-In Movie Theatre.  Remember those?

Tonight’s weather prediction is for FROST!   I will stay home in a warm place for dozing and predict they will not make it through the first feature.

Virginia Safari Park

Virginia Safari Park

 

Safari Park

Tomorrow is dedicated to pumpkin carving and a traditional visit to Safari Park, where we have been going since the girls were little.  No visit is complete without high pitched screaming in the car when an emu or other big critter sticks its head through the window for a little more snacking!

The Shock and Awe of Silence

When everybody leaves our home and life returns to a normal routine, I may be accosted by the shock and awe of silence.  But for now, it feels like an extension of our vacation and a time to contemplate the joyful ties of family and friends.

 

 

 

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