Monday, September 22, 2008

Guess who came to dinner?

Carmi’s Thematic Photographic theme of the week is nature and, boy oh boy, did we have some nature in our backyard tonight.

(I’m sitting here laughing at my own joke, which is funny to no one else but me because you all haven’t seen my backyard. My backyard is full of nature. We’ve got a forest back there, with trees that tower over our house and make me nervous when the wind comes up. We’ve got a little creek. We’ve got a tree stump big enough to seat four for a formal dinner. We’ve got bushes and flowers and berries and grass and squirrels and birds and neighborhood cats and wandering dogs and lots and lots of weeds. Considering we live in a metropolitan area, our backyard is a virtual Nature City, which is itself an oxymoron. Okay, I’ll stop now.)

Anyway, tonight we had some extra nature. Child Two and I had just come in the side door (which, as its name would imply, is between the front yard and the back) after her piano lesson when my husband said, “Make sure the door is shut. There’s a bear in the backyard.”

Child Two ran downstairs to the window. I ran upstairs for the camera. Then I heard some kids riding their bikes in front of our house, so I ran out to tell them to go inside until the bear was gone. Then I ran downstairs just as the bear went behind the playhouse and into the forest.

I missed it! And for nothing—those darn kids didn’t go inside anyway. We get evidence of bears in our yard, if you know what I mean (it’s no fun cleaning that up, let me tell you), but this was our first bear sighting in over a year and I didn’t see anything.

A while later, when I went onto the deck to bring the laundry in, I saw that the bear was back. I ran inside for the camera—which, for some ridiculous and unprecedented reason, I had actually put away (when do I ever do that?)—and ran downstairs. This time, I saw him (or her—I’m not sure, as there were no babies around and it’s hard to see the defining bits under all that fur).

Most of the pictures are blurry since I was panting from all that running, and I was shooting through a window in less-than-great light. And most of the picture are of his/her bum as he/she ate the few blackberries on our bushes. And there was a big splotch of something on his/her flank, which, in our benevolence, we’re assuming is mud. But still, here are the best ones.

It's time to fatten up for winter. At this time of year, black bears spend up to 20 hours a day eating, consuming up to 20,000 calories every day. It's slim pickings this year; the berry crops are very small due to a wet spring and summer.

Here you can see part of the forest. By the way, that weed in the foreground is not 20 feet tall. There's a big slope between the house and the bottom part of the yard.

Our visitor followed up his berry dinner with a mouthful of grass for dessert.

We can't help getting excited to see such amazing creatures in our own backyard, even though we know it would be better for them if they didn't live in such close proximity to humans. It's been a very hard summer for the bears; a lack of food has led some to be much bolder than normal and several have been shot. People's ignorance doesn't help them any, either. We hope this one can safely make it through to hibernation.


Hayley Townley, Breast Cancer Survivor Extraordinaire said...

Those are bear-y amazing photographs. I love that one of your first thoughts was to grab your camera, even if you had to run to get it. That'll teach you to put it away.


Mallu said...

With that black fur, your visitor looks even more frightening than our brown bears. My husband says he would love to see a bear in the nature. I prefer pictures of them, ha ha.