Barb and I sat amicably as we watched the sun set, eating cheese and drinking wine as we discussed various topics. The mosquitoes were pretty persistent, so our conversation was punctuated with slaps and scratching. I kept my eye on my watch, knowing I had to give out the evening meds. As the time approached I helped Barb pile the dishes and glasses back onto the wooden tray and we took everything inside.
“I can help with the dishes, if you like?”
“No. No.” Barb waved me away. “I will put them in the dishwasher, no worries.”
“Thank you for a lovely evening, Barb!” I gave her a warm hug.
“You are most welcome. Hey, do you need a flashlight to get back?” Barb asked as she pulled open a drawer to look for one. “It’s pretty dark out there.”
“Nah. I’ll be OK, thanks though. Good night!” I waved as I stepped back out onto the deck and slid the glass door closed behind me.
I galloped down the wooden steps and hopped onto the gravel landing and started quietly up the main road in the darkness, past the beach. I could hear the far off voices of the campers as they got ready for bed. I heard the mosquito well before it landed on my neck. I got it with a loud smack. That’s when I heard a startled low-pitched, deep ‘woof’ from the woods to my right. I stopped in alarm. My pulse quickened as fear flooded my system.
“Oh sh@%!” I whispered as my eyes darted in fright, trying to find the source. Another ‘woof’! Now, why didn’t I take Barb up on the offer of the flashlight? I couldn’t see a damn thing! I started to slowly creep towards the main house, the whole time desperately searching the wooded area to find the source of the noise.
“OK! Get a grip, Anne.” I thought as I stood on the road and covered my mouth with my trembling hands. “It’s probably a black bear. Now, what is it you are supposed to do? Do I make a lot of noise or do I lie down and play dead?” I searched my memory for the answer. “Make noise. No! Play dead. No…pretty sure it’s make noise with the black bear and with the brown bears you play dead.” I had to gamble.
“The other day…” I sang out softly as I started to gently clap my hands in time to the music. Sweat broke out on my brow as I slowly shuffled my feet along the gravel. “I met a bear. A great big bear…”
Oh Jesus! Please just let it be a little one. Please?
“Oh way out there.” My mouth was dry as I continued to move away from the wooded area. I noticed the branches of the bushes moving. I heard twigs breaking and could begin to see an outline of something coming out of the trees. I stopped in my tracks as my heart raced faster.
“He looked at me. I looked at him….” I continued to sing, very out of key. The bushes parted and a large figure, low to the ground emerged from the bushes. “He sized up me. I sized up him…” I softly sang and clapped my hands halfheartedly and watched as a second, smaller figure emerged from the bushes and into a grassy area.
“Oh glory be!” I softly squealed. It was a mother and baby black bear. They stopped and the mama bear sniffed the air and then looked in my direction. They were no more than thirty feet away from me.
“She said to me, ‘Why don’t you run. I see you ain’t got any gun?'” I continued to shuffle away from them and sing, but even more softly. She looked towards the beach and then back towards the main house before she turned away from me and started ambling unhurriedly towards the beach. Her baby bear obediently followed her. I stopped again as I watched the two bear’s bottoms waddle away from me. My fear receded as I observed them go. I shook my head in disbelief and giggled.
“This is the end. There ain’t no more. Until I meet that bear once more!” I sang a little louder.
Then I turned and ran like hell to the main house, squealing the whole way.