There are times that I worry and I know that I am being ridiculous – I know that worrying about coming face to beak with a loon when I am swimming underwater is highly irrational (feel free to laugh). There are times that I know that my fears are well founded – my husband needs to go to Australia for two weeks (see a tale of two terrors). Then there are those fears that hover somewhere in the middle. The chance of me being attacked by a bear is very, very small. The chance of me seeing a bear is not small at all.
Let me present four different events in my life. The first; we are sitting around the breakfast table at our home and a 7 year old Seek says, “I think I just saw a bear in the back yard.” I respond with a reasonable, “Maybe it was the neighbour’s cat.” Seek counters with, “No Mom it was big.” I then smile indulgently at him and say, sure it could be a bear all the while knowing that it’s the huge cat next door. While getting the kids in the car for school a neighbour from two doors down passes by and asks “Did you see the bear run through the back yards this morning?”
Second time 5 years ago; I am going for a jog at the cottage while Destroy rides his bike ahead of me. He rounds a corner and I can no longer see him. Seconds later I hear a very excited Destroy yelling, “MOM, MOM, I just saw a bear and it was HUGE. It’s body stretched all the way across the road!” I quickly respond with “Come on, let’s go back to the cottage!” Destroy answers me with one word, “Why?”
Third time 3 years ago; while driving around town doing errands I hear my children’s school announced on the radio. It appears that a bear was sighted on school property so there is a request for all parents to come into the school to pick up all children, as they are not being released as normal.
Fourth time, this past fall; the Artiste has some camp friends out to our cottage for a long weekend. We are standing around on the deck and I hear one of the boys say, “Cool that’s a bear on top of the canoe.” He then reaches into his pocket and pulls out his cell phone to snap a pic. I calmly say, “If you see or hear the mother get inside fast, you know what? Let’s just go inside anyway.”
I guess my point is that seeing a bear is definitely a possibility where I live but it has not yet been a dangerous encounter and it may never be one. Yet it is something that has given me many nightmares. Years ago I purchased a can of bear spray. Did you know that you have to register your driver’s license when you buy it? I have stopped carrying it with me when I jog because I am sure that the wind will be blowing in the wrong direction and I will either blind myself making me an easier target or I will only enrage the bear when I only manage to get close enough to merely irritate it’s eyes. I cannot tell you how many runs I have cut short because my imagination has gotten the better of me. I know that this fear is much greater than it needs to be (I will not say ridiculous) and that it will always mark me as someone who is not truly a northerner. I know that I need to overcome it, some days I can, I’m just not sure how to do it permanently.
Someone once told me not to worry, ‘you’ll smell the bear before you see it’. How is that supposed to be reassuring? What does that even mean? How will I recognize the smell? How far does the smell travel? Then what do I do? Help!