Joel Vernier

It was early morning. I was relaxing in my “Comfy Chair” studying my eyelids quite intensely and snoring a bit. I felt the usual shaking of my left arm, and as I became conscious, I heard my wife say; “Joel, look outside across the cut by the woods, I opened my eyes and in my excited, cautious, ready to “fight or flight” emotional state, (I’m partial to flight when I was young, I would fight with my brother, always fun in the end). I saw a mother bear and her two little cubs. I love seeing all the wildlife in central and northern Michigan.

I grew up in Royal oak, we did have some wildlife that I remember, lots of birds, squirrels that would sit on the fence and tease the family dog. We did have raccoons and opossums. I seem to remember some deer, but that might have been on Sunday night’s Wonderful World of Disney. 

Living “up north,” we are blessed with many forest creatures. Wild turkeys, opossums, porcupines, minks, woodchucks, otters, beavers, muskrats, so many deer, and of course, the bears. There is something special about seeing a bear alone or with cubs. I may relate back to my favorite cartoon characters on the “Yogi Bear” show. It never won an Emmy for anything, but I just loved the competition between Yogi, Mr. Ranger, and the “Picnic Baskets.”

Boo Boo, Yogi’s buddy would always try to keep Yogi out of trouble: “Mr. Ranger isn’t going to like that Yogi!” I watched many “Grizzly Adams” type movies, “Gentle Ben” and shows like that helped to remove the fear factor about bears. 

A couple of years ago, I was bicycling on Ritchie Road, it was a bright sunny day, and another bear event took place. As I was riding, about 20 feet in front of me, a bear cub ran across the road. I slammed on my breaks, the cub looked at me with its jet black nose glistening in the sunlight, and it ran off in the woods. Exciting, and then I heard a rustling in the trees, and it was momma bear suggesting that I practice more social distancing. I rapidly complied and did a wheelie laying down rubber as I screeched away, at least that’s my recollection.

In the back of our horse ranch, we used to have a beekeeper set up hives in the backwoods and make honey. Every year he would give me a few jars for the use of my land. After the first time, a bear came in and tore into a hive. The beekeeper set up a solar-powered fence to stop that, After two more events with the bears, He pulled up his hives and left the property, I miss his honey. Bears, on occasion, get hit by cars, not with the same frequency as deer-car collisions. Bears are notorious in our neighborhood for breaking into and tearing down bird feeders for the seeds. However, I have seen bears sipping out of a hummingbird feeder, like having an aperitif!

Living with forest friends is one of the best things about living up north! My question is: “does a bear nap in the woods?” Time to relax and get back to studying my eyelids.

“Remember, every day is a gift! Some are just a little more fun to open than others. – © Joel M. Vernier 07/08/2020 Author of: “The Guinea Pig In The Freezer.” joelmvernier@aol.com.

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