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When Bears Attack..

..Your garden.

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When I was about 16, I got a long-term babysitting job for the three most wonderful children on earth. I’m telling you. They were completely gracious, unspoiled, beautiful inside and out, and really never ill-behaved. Even the nine-month-old was a perfect angel 99% of the time. And the parents were super nice and down to earth. What a gig! It never felt like work.

It had its challenges, though. Potty training, learning to drive and then learning to drive their minivan shortly thereafter. My vomit phobia. Trying to beat those kids at Nintendo..which really can’t be done with the current generations.

Then there was the bear incident.

I was watching the three kids, which somehow multiplied to like nine kids, because the neighbor kids were over. And I had the baby strapped very securely into a baby swing. I pushed him back and forth. The older kids were stuck in the wooden tower (castle) playing this awesome Dinosaur game I helped create. Which, by the way, was an awesome game. I think I’ll teach Scarlet and Des that game. Anyway. Suddenly, you guessed it, a giant bear ambled into the yard. He (she) looked at me and then looked hungrily at the baby, at least in my imagination. She/he was probably minding her own business. Who can tell these things? And there I stood, at 17 years of age, realizing that a bear was encroaching on my watching of nine kids.

The thing about me, though, is that I’m weird. I can have an anxiety attack from a fire hydrant that triggers memories of a fire hydrant I saw with my now-deceased grandfather. In a real crisis, though, I’m pretty calm. If you don’t believe me, ask the NICU nurses at Baystate in Springfield just how calm I can be when they poke and prod my perfectly healthy newborn. Anyway. I didn’t freak out. I just told the oldest kid to quietly gather everyone else and bring them into the house. Single file. Looking down. Do not pass go. So they did that. And I very calmly took the baby out of the swing and held him extra tightly as I ran inside. Then we all stood inside, pressed against the glass, screaming with a lot of delight and a little bit of fear.

The house was near the train tracks, so in reality I should have been more concerned for that poor bear. People never expect this but I saw plenty of bears growing up in Jersey. I’m not from the “Sopranos” part of Jersey. And I’m not from the “Jersey Shore” part of Jersey. I guess you can say I’m from the “Black Bear Hunt” part of Jersey because at times the bears were so prevalent that people either organized or wanted to organized legalized hunts of them. Bears are no stranger to me.

I’m not afraid of bears. I’m not saying I get close to them or want my children anywhere near them. What I’m saying is that I admire and respect them from afar, while knowing full well that humans with guns, or any weapons, are the scariest animals in the animal kingdom. Bears? They just want to eat your butter lettuce, 99% of the time. When we saw a mother and her four babies enter our garden recently, I was not afraid. Obviously I was respectful enough not to get close or these pictures wouldn’t be so blurry, this far away at this time of night. However I was much more concerned with Cassidy’s garden! He has put hours upon hours into this garden, and I couldn’t comfortably let them munch on all of his hard work.

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Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

We scared the bears away, I’m happy to say. The mother loudly thumped her paw on the ground as some sort of signal to us or to her babies. The cubs listened instantly and circled a tree, standing up.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Then the five bears ran away into the woods, not to be seen again. Yet.

Even at three, I think Scarlet is still experiencing the world in shades of new and exciting. I guess we always are but I think about babies and how when you present them with something insane or scary or amazing, like a loud plane ride or an ocean sunrise, or a great big bear, maybe they’re not as impressed as us because to them, EVERYTHING is new. So maybe they can’t tell the difference between the new things that are unusual and the new things that are usual.

And that is so cool.

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