Friday, November 7, 2014

The Night I Looked Into the Face of a Bear

Photo by Tambako the Jaguar, via Flickr, Used under CC-BY-ND 2.0
Have you ever come face to face with something that absolutely terrified you, but absolutely thrilled you at the same time? That was my experience, just two weeks ago, at our home in the woods

It was Monday, at approximately 1:30 at night.  My husband had gone to work,and I was up late, on Facebook, as usual, when I decided to get something left in the car. As, I was heading out, I quickly checked out the glass door window first. 

When I looked out, found myself looking straight in the eyes of long-haired, gray-coloured, massive looking bear. He was about two feet away from the door, and he was staring straight into the window. I don't know if he saw me or not. I moved away from the door too quickly to find out. I was terrified. 

This was similar to what the bear I saw looked like.
Photo by Tambako the Jaguar, via Flickr, Used under CC-BY-ND 2.0
Well,sort of. For just a couple seconds before I was terrified, I felt a completely different emotion. I wasn't scared at all. I was THRILLED. Excited. Euphoric.   What a beautiful, majestic creature. God's creation. 

He looked so calm and serene, sitting there looking into my door window. He looked loving. And curious. I really don't know if he saw me or not, but at that moment, he seemed to look up at me with great wisdom and caring. 

He had long grayish brown fur. His fur seemed to be sticking up quite a bit, like a tousled haircut. His body was very round and cuddly looking. His legs seemed short, giving him the appearance of a slow, relaxed creature.

 I saw him and my heart moved out to him. He looked a bit lonely, like he needed a friend. He looked like he knew me, and wanted to take care of me. He was cute. Like a teddy bear. This is what my heart saw. 

But this is what my mind saw ...

I was alone, with no way to escape and some glass panes were all that separated me from a 200 pound creature who could knock me down with one swipe of his paw, and finish me off in another five minutes. 

When the terror hit, I felt paralyzed. Everything was in slow motion. Our home has glass panes all around most of the living room and dining room. The door has a glass panel window. There is a balcony window on the other side. I was sure that the bear could easily break these windows and get inside if it really wanted to. 
Photo by gintheemt, via Flickr, used under CC BY-SA 2.0

There was no back door. Only a patio door whose deck wrapped  to lead to the door where said bear now sat. What to do? I slowly moved away from the living room and into the bathroom. But wait, I had no phone. I stealthily, cautiously made my way back to the living room and grabbed my cell. Back to the bathroom. 911. 
"911. What is your emergency? 
|"I have a bear on my deck." 
"What is your address, Ma'am?" 


"Oh, it's not uncommon to see a bear in that area. You're right in the middle of the forest." 

(Really, I am? I didn't know!)

"I wouldn't patch you through to the police for that. Is there anything else I can help you with?"



(This is approximately how the call went -- I can't say it's exact because I was too afraid to remember exactly.)

And that was it. My emergency phone call was done. And no one was coming. I was again alone with a bear on my deck. So I called again. This time I got someone different. I explained my situation again, this time with more of an urgency, and an explanation as to why I thought it was dangerous. 

She put me through to the police. She said they might make it out. I waited. I called my husband. He told me to get the bear spray in hand, in case the bear charged the house. I didn't know how bear spray would protect me against a bear being in the house, but I did as he said, terrified, and going upstairs to get the spray. 

No one came. I wasn't sure what to do. So, I called 911 again, and explained that I didn't know what to do. She said to check to see if the bear was still there. But what if it sees me, I asks. I don't want to startle him and provoke him to charge. Remember, he was only two feet away from a glass window door. 

But you have to know if he's there, in order to assess the situation. So, I did it. I looked out cautiously. He was gone. Relief. But not quite. Where was he now? Around the balcony door? I still did not feel safe. I told the operator I would still like someone to come out. She said she didn't think anyone could. 

But she did pass my name unto the Conservation Officer in town. And I waited. He called me back. And he assured me that the bear was probably just curious. They get lots of reportings in the area, especially in the fall. As long as he wasn't trying to break in, I should be fine. 

He also said we could have the bear trapped and sent away, if we wanted. I wasn't sure if this was a good idea, but said I would get back to him. He said it should be fine. 

I also called my husband. He said it should be fine. I messaged a friend that used to live in the Yukon. He said it should be fine. 

But that night, I did not go to sleep until I saw the light roll in over the trees at 5:30 a.m. Everyone said I should be fine, but my world was now different. My safe haven had been changed. A bear had come just three feet away from me. 

The bear was beautiful. Curious. Maybe even loving. But it could kill me. It was also possibly a threat. Dangerous. 

To some who have lived in the bush their whole lives, seeing a bear would be no big deal. But for me, it was. I had looked into the eyes of a bear, and I would never be the same. The greatest thrill. The greatest fright. 

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  1. I admire your honesty in your feelings in this article. I was worried about bears when I went camping in California last year alone. I was blessed only with a glimpse of one at night so I did not get the up close and personal of your situation. I was worried a bit about sleeping in a thin tent. My understanding though overall with bears keep food put up and control the odor (out of sight as well). Bears really dislike coffee, I almost always have spilled my coffee on me so probably wreak of it. Also be noisy enough the bear doesn't think you are sneaking up to attack and knows your presence its likely it doesn't want to encounter humans either. I find your article humorous as well as I feel your nervousness and terror as you are uncertain as to what to do while the bear waited outside to come get you... I had a very similar experience with a snake once, though I won't bother recounting the story here. Know animals really are not much more likely to hurt us than another human is. Actually, animals may be less likely to hurt us than another human. Blessings and May you walk in the beauty way!

  2. Hi Laurie,

    Thanks for dropping by. I can understand your concern about sleeping in a thin tent. Not much to protect you there, but yes, the bears are unlikely to come too close unless you have left food out. If you were in a well-used area, they likely want to shy away from humans.

    In my case, I was nervous that he would see me through my door window and panic when he noticed me so close. He was only 3 feet from me, if that. But in spite of my fear, it was so amazing to see one. He looked so sweet and guileless. I wish we did not have the barrier of fear between us and the animals, but that is the way it is. I am so glad you caught my humour in this, too. It was a bit ridiculous, really, but this newbie was getting her first taste of the wild! I am sure the police people were secretly laughing at me. Have a great night, and take care!

  3. I would have been terrified! I live in a super small rural town in NW Arkansas and it's kind of out in the "boonies" but thank goodness I've never been face to face with one of those majestic creatures but I don't think I would even be able to call 9-1-1 if I was staring one down!

  4. Stephanie, it was terrifying! Thanks for understanding! I felt like time stood still for me, like I was in slow motion. I hope you never have to see one, either! It's definitely good to keep our distance from these creatures! Thanks so much for stopping by on the blog.

  5. Amazing how non-chalant people are about bears! Do be careful in the woods, Sharilee.

  6. Dina, exactly! Nonchalant is the perfect word for it. Like, what's the big deal, lady? I am glad that you get it! :) And thanks for the safety warning. I now have an air horn, bear spray and lots of pots and pans, but hopefully, he just stays away. Blessings, Dina.


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