I make my way through the tall grasses, just a trace of the path I mowed in the early summer still visible. Pushing branches from the Elderberry bushes out of my way, I cross the Gulley bridge over the dry stream.
Now it’s just rocks, fallen red berries splattering the dry rounded black stones.
It’s the first year that I’ve walked in the woods during the summer since we moved to the Farm. The first time I’ve been able to get through the grasses, some taller than me. The ticks seem to have disappeared and I’ve discovered that there’s a whole area of soft green grass in the woods by the stone wall that marks the far border of our property.
If not for the mosquitos it would be the perfect place for a picnic.
On Sunday, Fate and Zinnia and I wandered off the path farther than we have since the spring. I took few photos, just enjoying being present, wandering, looking, and listening.
As we started back home, going a different way than we came, I found myself heading towards a patch of brambles. Fate and Zinnia didn’t seem to mind, but I turned up the hill where there the ground cover was easier to walk through.
The dogs, who were ahead of me, turned back and started to follow me up the hill when I saw a big black shape in the distance. I was struck by how dark it was yet at the same time seemed to glisten. I stopped and stared still trying to make out what it was when I saw the pale brown of his nose.
It was a bear. He had turned his head and was looking directly at me.
I had seen evidence of bears in the woods before, scat and footprints, but never an actual bear.
Even though he was far away, my first instinct was to run. I didn’t though. Instead, I casually called out “Let’s go this way dogs” and walked slowly in the opposite direction of the bear, the dogs following me. I loudly repeated the same words remembering what I’d heard and read about making noise when you meet a black bear in the woods.
The dogs didn’t seem to know the bear was there or were intentionally ignoring it. For all I know, the dogs and the bear may have sensed each other on our walks before this. I may have been the only one who was clueless.
It was both scary and exciting to see a bear in the woods. A part of me wishes I watched him longer. But my instinct was to make sure the dogs didn’t chase him and to give the bear a clear message that we didn’t want to bother him.
Today we were back in the woods.
This time we walked on the path, and I looked more closely for signs of the bear. I didn’t see any, but I felt like I was giving him a message anyway. Letting him know that we’ll be back, and we won’t bother him.
I kind of like the idea of sharing the woods with a bear.