I’ve always felt drawn to black bears.
Perhaps I am a human-ursine hybrid. Many people over the years have told me that I remind them of a bear. It’s true that I have a keen sense of smell and not the best eyesight in the world. And of course I’m always foraging for my next meal.
Mind you, I only have this affinity for black bears, not grizzlies. Those things terrify me. I’ve seen Grizzly Man and I definitely wouldn’t want to become a wienerschnitzel platter for Mr. Chocolate.
I’ve always wanted to take a picture of one in the wild (from a comfortable distance of course.) Until that day, I have to be satisfied seeing them in captivity. Two of our favorite places to see black bears are the Museum of Life and Science in in Durham, and Grandfather Mountain in Linville.
The museum in Durham has a wonderful after-hours event for members called “Bears up Close.” For a small fee you get to tour the bear house and fling boxes of food for the bears to gobble up. The first time we went, a bear leapt up suddenly from nowhere and greeted us at the door.
The hair stood up on the back of my neck as my animal instincts kicked in. It’s probably a good thing I had the appropriate fight or flight response. Those nails looked long and sharp!
On our recent trip to Boone, we visited the bears at Grandfather Mountain. The bears seemed to be looking right at me, as if they had something to say.
I was smitten with the the beautiful cinnamon-colored bear on the right. Apparently only one percent of the black bear population have this coloration. Her beautiful coat glistened in the sun as she took notice of some frogs that swam up beside her. She seemed to be wary of them. Imagine that, I thought.
Suddenly I felt the inspiration to write a song about the cinnamon bear. A Neil Young parody, à la Weird Al Yankovic, popped into my head.
A dreamer of pictures
I run in the night
You see us together,
chasing the moonlight,
My cinnamon bear.
The cinnamon bear stayed with me for the drive back home to Durham. By the time I got back I was starving, but there was not a scrap in the kitchen. Famished, I did the only thing I could do at the moment: I went to the backyard to forage. To my delight, there were fresh figs waiting for me. And a few blueberries and blackberries too.
I stood up on my hind legs and spent the next half hour eating contentedly. Once I had gotten my fill, I lumbered back into the house and fell into a deep, peaceful sleep, dreaming of the cinnamon bear.