After my last floral post, I had fully intended on exploring the history of tulips, since I know how much everyone likes to be educated. Whilst it is all very fascinating - the history of tulips, that is - I figured that people might actually prefer to hear about my close encounters of the bear kind. Besides, I know that it will make brother Moon very jealous. After all, he kept on whinging and whining the whole time he was up here visiting about the lack of bear sightings. So Moon, here are the bears......
The first one we saw was just on the side of the road as we were driving to Long Beach on the west coast of Vancouver Island - well known for its long beaches - duh, big waves and endless surf. We had stopped on the side of the road for safety reasons - apparently someone was missing a headrest in the back seat. Turned out to be not so safe a stop, since once we had all piled out of the vehicle, someone noticed the large tree stump just behind the vehicle move. "My God, the tree stump is moving!?!" Oooooh, the tree stump is all furry and it has eyes.....wait a minute........" The coin finally drops - it is a bear. We all leg it back to the car, for two different reasons. The sensible half of the group deems this to be the safest spot. The photographers of the group need to grab cameras and zoom lenses. Am I sure that you have guessed which group I fell into - and weren't the photos worth the risk of a bear mauling? Besides, it was only one small bear, and there were four of us, and the car was pretty close by. As I was taking photos, I could tell how close the bear was getting by the pitch of my companions voice - one of the sensible ones in the car - as she was yelling "Get in the car. Get in the car now!" Good thing too, since you can't really tell how far away a bear is when you are looking at it down a camera lens. Needless to say, it would have been a very sad ending for all concerned if the bear had got me while I was browsing through the photos that I had just taken of it - well, you have to check that your exposures are correct, don't you? I can imagine the judges verdict now - death by camera distraction.
Anyhoo, the bear didn't get us - in fact he was quite happy chomping away on freshly sprouted herbaceous plants and grass, apparently not bothered by us in the slightest, even when I started singing "Look for the bear necessities, the simple bear necessities......." That is normally enough to enrage any hearing-capable mammal, but even this did not phase the bear. The bear just didn't care - look, he is even smiling at me....
We bearly survived our next encounter - this time it was with a mother and a cub - the most dangerous combination when it comes to bears attacking. The mother was on one side of the path and the baby on the other. Both munching away on grass and dandelions without a care in the world. That is until we came along. They then had to put up with my renditions of the Teddy Bears Picnic, Winnie the Pooh and the Bear Necessities (well, I only have a limited repertoire when it comes to bear songs) and my friend imploring us to step away from the bears - again, we could only get so far back, since our zoom lenses are only so good. So, what to do now? I suggested that we throw a couple of stones at them to try and move them along - well, it had worked with a rattlesnake one time in California. That one got voted down - can you believe that!?! Our only other plan was to make noise (hence the singing) and wait, at a safe distance. Unfortunately, I am not good at waiting safe distances, so I tended to drift closer and closer to the bears, which were moving very slowly down the path, not leaving a dandelion uneaten. I did beat a hasty retreat at one point, when the mother bear huffed at me in a very threatening manner. Huffing may not seem very threatening, but trust me, it is when there is nothing between you and a mamma bear and her cub.
Plan B was about to be put into action when a group of hikers wended their way down the path, blissfully unaware of the danger up ahead and their impending mauling. This could be the answer to all our problems. All we had to do was let them continue on their merry way and observe the outcome. The possibilities:
1). The impending mauling becomes an actual mauling - good photo op and should clear the path for us, since mamma bear will have her claws full.
2). They will scare the bears off the path, leaving the path clear for us - not as exciting as option one, but a good outcome for all concerned.
3). As above, but the bears are actually only hiding and we get the mauling - might get a decent last shot before going down.
Of course, we didn't get to test these options, since my good will gene got the better of me and I informed the hikers of the danger up ahead. They seemed to quite like the idea of seeing bears and so carried on down the path. Meanwhile, we took the less dangerous route and bushwhacked it through the undergrowth, onto the beach and back to the car the long way round. Turns out that our route was the more dangerous - lots of spiky and prickly bushes and some very dangerous tippy logs. By the time we made it back to the car, the other group was already ensconced in the local inn, toasting their lack of a bear mauling.
For those of you dying to know all about tulips, and I am sure there are many - well, another day, another post...........perhaps, if you ask nicely.