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Daughter of Ishmael by Diane Stringam Tolley

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by Diane Stringam Tolley

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Our Furry Camping Neighbours


Camping.
Sometimes our attempts to get up close and personal with nature gets us UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL with nature.
For many years, our family vacationed yearly at a beautiful campground in Saskatchewan.
Kimball Lake.
It is considered one of the top ten beaches in Canada.
Yes. Canada does have beaches.
Moving on . . .
One momentous year, we named the 'Year of the Bear'.
For obvious reasons.
I'd like to tell you about it . . .
Our family, being large in numbers, preferred to camp on the outer reaches of the vast campground.
The overflow area.
Usually we and our friends were the only people there.
It was amazing.
The kids could play 'Kick the Can'.
'Capture the flag'.
Tag.
Venture all over the site.
And never disturb anyone.
Wonderful times.
When our kids were happily engaged in something quiet, it was also peaceful.
Perfect.
But one year, its remote location attracted another kind of camper.
The furry, four-legged kind.
Fortunately for us, these 'other' campers were two-year-olds.
Recently pushed out of the nest by new arrivals.
They were young and inexperienced.
One afternoon, I was happily relaxed in the hammock, reading.
My Husby was sitting nearby, working on yet another diamond willow project.
“Diane,” he said quietly.
“Hmmm?”
“Diane.” A little louder.
I looked at him.
He pointed past me with his chin.
I turned to look behind me.
Not ten feet away, a coal-black young bear was demolishing a rotten log.
“Gee!” I rolled quickly off the hammock and joined my husband.
The bear looked at us.
“Maybe if we make some noise, it'll scare him off,” my Husby suggested. “Maybe.”
Meanwhile, behind us, our friend was frantically corralling children and putting them into cars.
I joined her.
My Husby got a large kettle and spoon and banged on it.
The bear, ears up and definitely interested, started towards him.
He quickly scrambled into our car.
Okay, that didn't work.
We had some neighbouring campers that year.
They too heard the noise and, carrying coffee and donuts, came over to see what was going on.
Horrified, we watched them from the safety of our car.
Fortunately for them, the park rangers were alert to the visit.
One arrived at the climactic moment.
Armed with rubber bullets.
He shot our little visitor in the butt.
Squealing loudly, the bear disappeared.
The ranger than gave us a lecture on bear safety.
Something obviously needed.
And continued his patrol.
Sometime later, a second bear, light brown in colour, appeared across the campground.
Near a deserted picnic table.
Which it proceeded to use as a scratching post.
Ugh.
Please note: Always wash your tables before use.
We remembered our bear-safety lecture and stayed well away from it.
But this time, our dogs noticed it and one of them barked.
The bear disappeared.
Whew.
The third bear of the year was at the neighbour's site when we came back from the beach.
Licking the cans in the neighbour's recycle.
I should mention, here, that we all knew to pick up our garbage and deposit it in the bear-proof containers. But none of us realized that our empty cans were also a temptation.
The ranger was already there.
Unfortunately, this last bear had already been 'relocated' once.
She had returned.
She was out of chances.
The sound of the ranger's gun, this time, was eerie and final.
He loaded the carcass into his truck and drove away.
We watched him sadly.
Such a beautiful creature.
Who had the misfortune of discovering 'man'.
Yep. Camping is a chance to commune with nature.
Sometimes, the act of communing is a little poignant.
But always it is memorable.

15 comments:

  1. I like my nature small sweet and fuzzy...anything remotely dangerous is NOT for me. Poor little guy though...what a way to end his eploration.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We felt so bad for him. And I'm with you. Small and sweet and fuzzy.

      Delete
  2. I remember our dog was VERY confused after she barked, because we praised her afterwards!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We live to confuse our dogs! We were sure glad she was there!

      Delete
  3. Bears did make camping an adventure. My dad and I were putting out a fire in the Smokies, past twilight. The fire was in one of those concrete enclosures. When we looked up we were looking up at a very large bear. We were squatting; it was standing. Dad rose up with a lighted brand and yelled and waved his arms. After long seconds the bear turned and left. Whew.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, man! That would be SO scary! Our bears were all two-year-olds. Still scary, but no bigger than us.

      Delete
  4. Oh that is never nice
    We are in their land not the other way round.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly. But I really, really like their land . . .

      Delete
  5. Ah yes... bears. We haven't been camping yet this year, but we are hearing many reports of bears this year since so much of our forest burned in last year's fire. The bears are coming in closer because they can't find anything to eat.

    One year a bear came into my Grandma's campsite and she just picked up a broom and chased that bear right out like it was a dog or something. ha ha ... Nobody messed with Grandma's campsite! No one! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like your Grandma. Is this your Grandma Nelson? Sad about your forests. The animals always pay.

      Delete
  6. EEEK! I may have stayed in the car after the first experience and just driven right home. Brave, you are. (I pictured saying that in a Yoda voice although I'm not sure why.) Glad no one was eaten. And congrats on only saying "Gee!"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love Yoda! I'm a little surprised myself at the 'Gee'. :)

      Delete
  7. WOW 3 encounters with bears, Thankfully I have never had that experience while camping...there are no bears in the UK. Such a shame they had to kill the last bear not its fault.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Definitely not his fault. I felt like such an intruder! Yep. That was our three-bear year. Memorable.

      Delete
  8. Hi Diane, you have described composting so good. Easy to understand and enjoyable!! Thank you so much for sharing and I love the idea.What an inspiring post, filled with meaningful lessons! I related on a few levels.

    ReplyDelete

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Diane was born and raised on one of the last of the great old Southern Alberta ranches. A way of life that is fast disappearing now. Through her memories and stories, she keeps it alive. And even, at times, accurate . . .

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