It’s all good in the Twilight Zone, even with bears

It’s all good in the Twilight Zone, even with bears

I can’t deny it: I’ve been spending too much time on the internet, especially Facebook, where I like to keep up on the area news. And the most exciting recently is the black bear sightings in the county.

One time, in our much younger and stupider years, Joe and I took a fun trip to the Shenandoah National Park. We stayed at the Big Meadows Campground off the Skyline Drive in our tent camper for as long as our food held out. It was about four days and three nights.

You couldn’t hold much food in the tent camper, and all the food had to be locked in the car trunk overnight because you didn’t want a bear breaking into the camper overnight to get your food. The last day the menu was down to Spam and some prepackaged lunch meat.

We spent three full days hiking around the many trails surrounding the Big Meadows Campground looking for bears. Why did we make this our goal? I have no idea, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Finally, on the last day after hiking miles and miles, we found our bear — a half mile from the campground surrounded but not closely by a group of about 30 other hikers. This young bear was playing in a stream, apparently unaware of the excitement it was causing. Then again, maybe it liked the attention — you never know with bears.

At least it was mission accomplished on that vacation. It’s good to have goals. As much as we wanted to see bears in the wild on that trip, having one roam through your neighborhood is not on the bucket list — or any list at all for that matter.

Those mind-foggy morning hours where anything could happen can be the most amazing. After a seemingly good night’s sleep, I opened my eyes as the neighborhood cat, whom I had let in for the night, started moving about the house looking for a way out. He was headed in the direction of the favorite perch of my indoor kitty, who is not fond of other cats, so now was the time to jump out of bed and take action.

I headed toward the back door. The curtains were shut, so I didn’t see it until I opened the inside door. It is a bear, and it is sitting on its haunches on my patio looking through the screen door. I immediately realize it wants dry cat food.

This is not surprising because in my neighborhood everything wants cat food: the two neighborhood cats, ants, birds — especially starlings, chipmunks, raccoons and possums. Yup, they all eat cat food.

Cat food is great stuff, but I can’t afford to feed the entire neighborhood, much less a bear. I’m careful to only set out food if I see the cat and not more than I think it is going to eat. I serve seconds if needed.

But the neighborhood cat wants out, my hazy brain is thinking. I can’t let this bear intimidate me. I must let it know who is boss and let this cat out. I open the backdoor quickly, just a few inches, and the cat runs out.

Mission accomplished. I hurried and closed and locked both doors. I headed back to finish dozing, telling Joe he can’t go outside right now because there is a bear sitting on our patio and it is looking in our back door. And it wants cat food, so don’t give it cat food.

Totally relaxed and feeling at peace that I had handled the situation so well, I dropped back off to sleep for a few before I heard Joe stirring.

“Did you see the bear?” I asked out loud.

“What?” said Joe, who is fully awake but seems confused.

“The bear out back,” I reply.

“What did you say?”

“The bear, did you see the … ”

Oxygen starts to flood my brain. I realize a few things I think happened don’t make sense. I have never let the neighborhood cat in the house overnight. I would never have opened the backdoor and put a poor cat outside on my patio with a bear. I also have no need to prove I’m not intimidated by a bear. And the bear that was on my patio looked more like a grizzly and not a black bear — the kind that have been spotted here recently.

“Oh, I think, that was a dream. Never mind.” That settled, it was time to doze off again.

It’s crazy what your mind can believe sometimes, but that dream had one thing right — if those scroungy bears get the chance, you can bet they are going to eat cat food.