July 13, 2009

Bear Sagas

I'm reminiscing about bears since my last post. Last night, going down to the kitchen for something, I did look out the window wondering whether I'd see a bear again. But I did remind myself, and Monte, that bears seem to cycle through every two or three days ... That is if it feels there's something to return for.

I'm a city born and raised girl. My favorite books were those about country living. Am I living in the country now? Am I truly living in the mountains? Living at 8000 feet may seem like mountains to many. I do remember drawing a picture for the kids when we were traveling around Washington with Monte as he'd do geology things.

The first third of our marriage we traveled with Monte (that's about twelve years). We'd be gone about a week and home for a couple then gone again. Homeschooling flowed into that lifestyle since we wanted to continue being with Monte. When Monte was looking for old prospects in brambly Washington and visiting geologic companies we were there for six weeks. My journal says I only saw the sun for 15 minutes here and there and luckily the sky was clear when we were in Seattle and could get a view of the mountains.

Most of the coast's mountains are 8000 feet tall - that's where I live! occasionally you'd see a 14er, like Mt Hood or Baker and St Helen's before it blew. What I drew for the kids was those mountains in comparison to sea level. Denver is a mile high, so we're hardly 2500 feet over that with 14ers behind us. So I live in the foothills. I can be to the edge of Denver in half-an-hour and most people who live around us commute to Denver for work and play daily. So am I in the country? Since we've had chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, and bees, I think that's 'country'. Since we have deer, elk, coyotes, fox, mountain lions, and bear ... that's country. (Dawson took the photo of the elk in our neighbor's trailer with straw.)

When walking in the country around Vancouver and Washington I'd heard to make noise so you don't startle a bear. When one summer we were having many bear sitings, especially a mother with cubs, I remembered about making noise. My lower garden and chicken coop are on the edge of the woods. So what noise did I make one day? Don't ask me why, cuz there was no pre-meditated thought behind it ... but I just started singing - "Bears eat oats, and does eat oats, and little lambs eat ivy/ A kid'll eat ivy too, wouldn't you" (or is it 'mares'?).

Bears put a damper on the kids sleeping out in a tent all summer that year. I was hanging clothes out to dry that summer (tho it's the 'green' thing to do, did you know neighborhoods are fighting the issue do to covenants against clotheslines?). As i was carrying the laundry basket a bear was startled and stood up. Now THAT'S Big, and scary, and I was startled! So for the rest of this summer I'm going to probably be doing more looking over my shoulder and looking for bears everywhere.

In an August 2007 post, I told of finishing off the garage and the garage doors were open. All the bear got into that time was the dog food. We now always look each evening to make sure the garage doors are closed. I have marked on my calendar in August about a bear in the garage in 2001 (I like to remember things). Monte and me were awakened in the night by a plasticy sound against the driveway gravel. It was a bear licking clean an ice cream tub. That bear had eaten a VERY well-rounded meal! It had eaten a ham, peaches, bread, spinach, and then ice cream for dessert.

Bears are DIRTY! That bear had opened the chest freezer and left dirty, greasy smudges all along the edge of the freezer. We had an old carpet in the garage at the time with exercise equipment on it. Over time dirt started building up in areas, showing forth bear footprints. Bear footprints ... that reminds me - we do have some plaster casts still of bear footprints the kids and me made from prints left on the dirt road.

Monte wants Dawson to add fencing wire over the screen windows in the bunk house. We built a 'bunk house' in the mid 90's for kids to sleep in. Since I'm in the story-telling mood, I'll tell "the rest of the story" ... The bunk house was originally built right behind our house, close to it. We didn't want to keep it there. Well, what often happens around here is we sit around talking for long spells, and action often follows. It was winter. "How's about pulling the bunk house around the house over the snow like a sled?" ... "I'll wager it'll fall apart." ... "Naw it won't." As you can see, it's sitting quite nicely, intact, and it's even shingled. The number 4 you see on the door in the lower picture? is for Dawson's frisbee golf course.

One summer Monte and me slept in the bunkhouse until it got so rainy and felt musty damp all the time. Two sides are window screen (we don't even cover the open windows in the winter - snow doesn't get in). Company overflow sleep there. It has built in plywood sleeping areas, a couch with lamp table and a desk. Monte plastered copied photos all over one wall (reminds me of a place we rented that had Norman Rockwell pics all over the outhouse walls. I wish I'd saved them before the old place collapsed under snow!). Dawson is sleeping in the bunkhouse this summer, along with his friends when they are staying over (partly in consideration of Heather and baby Will). If they leave any food scraps of any kind a bear could easily get in!


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