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One Woman's Opinion

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Please, Mr. Bear!

by Mary Wakefield Buxton
Urbanna, Va.— All my life I have loved bears. Well, not actually loved them, but I do like them very much. Of course, I don’t personally know any bears. But they do seem pleasant enough in books.

Once I actually went west to Yellowstone National Park in pursuit of bears. I finally saw one through a telescope about three miles away, a big golden grizzly bear on the side of a mountain, munching on grass. It was quite a thrill, although I would have much preferred to have been closer.

Several black bear sightings have been reported in the Sentinel over the last few months. A friend, JoAnn Muir, emailed me that a bear had crossed her yard in Saluda. But no bears in Urbanna. It doesn’t seem right that Deltaville and Saluda have had bears, but alas, nary a bear for poor dear Urbanna.

In all fairness, I suppose if a bear should come to our home on Kent Street, “Lord” and “Lady” would chase him away. They are not as friendly to bears as I am. But a gal can dream, can’t she, that one fine day a bear shall come a-calling?

Oh, please, Mr. Bear, if you are reading this , , , won’t you come to Urbanna so that we can have a bear sighting too?

I know exactly what to do if a bear should come my way; fix him a bowl of porridge. I happen to know that bears love porridge; Papa Bear liking it more, of course, than Mama Bear and Baby Bear.

I have seen many kinds of animals in Urbanna—fox, raccoon, groundhog, squirrel, possum, skunk, rabbit, snake, and even a mountain lion (on my roof). But woe is me; I have never seen a bear.

I should welcome a bear with open arms. “Hi Bear,” I would say. “How are tricks?”

First rule, if you should ever meet up with a bear: don’t scream “Help, a bear!” as if you are frightened of him. Rather just stand still and look him calmly in the eye. Have a pleasant conversation. Tell him you like bears. The idea is to set him at ease.

Above all, don’t run. Like dogs, bears will chase anything that runs. He will think if you run, you want to be chased. He will gladly accommodate you. He will also gladly catch you.

Do not climb a tree. This may surprise many city readers to learn that bears can climb trees too.

Beware of Mama Bear with her cub. She can be very dangerous. It would be very unwise to try to pet her cub. Or Mama Bear. If you should meet mom and son, stand still for a moment or two and then quietly, without the least hullabaloo, back off and away, all the time speaking quietly to the bears. Reciting the 23rd Psalm or the Lord’s Prayer might be a good idea too.

Dogs are thought to have descended from bears. They do seem similar in appearance, but they are not alike. Sometimes when I look at “Lady,” I think I see her bear ancestors looking back at me. This is probably not remarkable, as she probably sees my ape ancestors looking back at her. We are more or less stuck with our ancestors.

Always remember bears aren’t dogs. We kiss dogs but we don’t kiss bears. Oh, maybe we might steal a little kiss on top of the head every now and then, but I don’t recommend it.

Bears, unlike dogs, do not like to have their ears scratched or to be tickled under the chin. A good rule of thumb is to remember that dogs have nails and teeth whereas bears have claws and fangs.

Bears do not like baby talk like dogs do. They go berserk when they hear someone say . . . “Here, bearsie wearsie.” They are known to roar first before charging. After the roar and the charge, usually follows the bite. Bears have very big teeth.

It’s a good idea to keep the yard clear of dog or cat food. Make sure garbage cans are secure as bears like garbage, especially if there are any remains of porridge. They also like blueberries, maple syrup and honey, so take special precaution with any leftover jars.

Bears have feelings just like humans. They do not like to be teased, tormented, trapped, hunted or chased. They love life and freedom just as we do. Please don’t hurt our bears. Always keep in mind they are Virginians too. ©2009

posted 09.30.2009

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