I remember my father telling a story about encountering a black bear while he was alone doing a little fly fishing. I rarely saw my father frightened, but I remember so well how scared he was. He often said he was afraid he was going to have a heart attack that day!
Such is life in the mountains. You learn to live with the creatures that share your space. We have lived here over two years and we are learning to live with nature’s residents. Last year we put out a small container garden. The next morning all the plants had been dug up, but oddly they were fine. Some creature (likely a raccoon) decided to dig in the fresh loose dirt for grubs. Most of the ground here is red clay so finding loosely packed soil must have been a treat. The plants were simply an unintended casualty.
Wild turkeys are a common sight. In the summer, squirrels and chipmunks, field mice and rabbits are seen almost daily. I love capturing them on my camera whenever I can.
We have had several visits from black bears. It is a little unnerving the first time you see one just five feet outside your living room window. We had several bird feeders crushed and several shepherds crooks bent beyond recognition. Needless to say now the bird feeders come in before dusk although when bears are looking for food, they are not necessarily nocturnal. (Party stores carry small air horns perfect for startling an unwelcome visitor.)
We saw bobcats a couple of times, but could never quite capture them on a camera before they were long gone. Majestic creatures in their own right, bobcats are powerful and while they look like an overgrown cat, they are a force to be reckoned with.
After finding evidence of night visitors, we decided to buy a trail camera just to see who was coming by. This morning, my husband brought the SD card in to see what creatures had been around these last few weeks.
We clicked through the images and saw the rabbit, two raccoons and an opossum. We love opossums because they love to eat ticks! Then we both said – Oh no. Yes, there were several shots of a bear walking down the brick walkway behind our house. You need to understand this walkway actually touches our house, so this means the bear was only about 4 feet from our back wall. A few more clicks and the bear was now standing. Whoah! They look so much larger when they stand on their hind legs!
The images were timestamped around 4:00 am so the bears could still smell the evidence of the bird food. Looking at where his head was in relation to the pole, he was about 5-6′ tall when standing on his hind legs.
Of course, this is life in and around the mountains. It’s all about having respect for your surroundings and for the creatures that lived here long before we did. We love seeing them – at a distance – but we never approach them or try to lure them with food.
I love this calm integration with my homeland. I love seeing the wildlife, the birds and the plants and trees that grow effortlessly around us. It is truly home to all of us.
“We don’t own the planet Earth, we belong to it. And we must share it with our wildlife.”