Thursday, June 26, 2014

Bear with me as I am mad and sad

I went to our cabin last Thursday intending to stay through Sunday, trying to catch up on all kinds of undone tasks, including lots of un-mowed trails.  Although thunderstorms were predicted, I followed my old habits of weather prediction interpretation.  If good weather is predicted for the day, then the weather will be good.  If bad weather is predicted, then the weather may not be as bad as predicted.

My assumptions proved warranted.  I had gray weather but very little rain.  The grass was too wet to mow mostly because of dew, but I did set to on many other tasks.

No, I don’t make our cabin a sweat farm as a DNR forester warned us years ago.  My preferred rhythm is an hour of some wood cutting, brush clearing, or whatever and then an hour of reading, playing SuDoKu, or browsing the web.

My wife didn’t join me partly because she wasn’t so optimistic about the weather and partly because she had a long list of activities she wanted to do in Duluth.  Also we did have a guest but we often let the guest take care of himself.

Well, it was a good thing my wife stayed behind.  The guest managed to clog the toilet and left for his planned activity.  My wife tried the hot water treatment, the plunger treatment, and the snake treatment.  Nothing worked to unblock the toilet.

When she called me to report this, I decided I should come back to Duluth to help her.  One hour later I was home.

I tried the snake and could not get it in as far as I knew it should go.  Then I pushed the snake while my wife turned the handle.  Success!  We cleared it!

My feeling that I had to come back to Duluth was my first “mad” of the day.

I headed back to Brimson.  I declined making coffee at home and opted to get some at Bixby’s.  I had to wait a bit, chatted with the barista, and was on my way.

As had been true most of the last part of the week, Duluth was foggy, but from Glenwood and north it was clear.  I turned off Jean Duluth Road and proceeded east on Hwy 44.  I passed the marsh and drove among the trees where it was darker.

Then a black shape came from the right.  It was a black bear that walked right into my car which slammed into its head.  I stopped as quickly as I could.  Looking behind me, I saw the bear lying of the side of the road, its head over the solid white line.

I called 911 with a non-emergency call.  I reported the incident and was transferred to the state highway patrol.  The state dispatcher said the DNR would be notified.

Several people stopped to ask if I was OK.  I said I was fine and that authorities had been be notified.  Some said the bear was still alive and that I should stay away from it.  One man said he could get his gun and shoot the bear.

Finally I inspected the damage.  There was a small triangular break in the front bumper and a piece of trim was hanging down to the road on one side.  Later I found that the wheel well plastic was loose and the right side of the bumper was loose.

I walked back to the bear, probably about two hundred pounds and three to four years old.  It was breathing with great quick heaves.

I walked back to my car and picked up lots of pieces of auto debris.  These can’t all be mine!  Many were in shapes I didn’t recognize.  There must have been previous crashes here.

A sheriff’s deputy pulled up by the bear and I walked back.  He checked my auto license on his computer and asked for other details.  He gave me a case number for insurance purposes.

I walked back to my car and got out some tools to get the hanging trim off.  While I was doing this, I heard “crack”.  The deputy shot the bear.

This was both a mad and sad event.  I was mad that it had even occurred and I was sad for the bear.

Finally, I called my insurance company while all the details were fresh in my memory.

As I drove off, I got mad again.  The sun was out and I had missed some good working and loafing time at the cabin.

Sunday the prediction for Brimson was more thunderstorms.  Fortunately, that didn’t deter my wife from joining me.  The weather was a mix of clear and cloudy with only a brief bit of pitter-patter when I was reading in the screen tent.  I got lots of grass mowed and she picked rhubarb for next week’s Rhubarb Festival.

On the way back I noticed how dark the area of the incident was compared to the marsh area to the west.

I also had another mad.  Three drivers behind me didn’t want to go the speed limit and were bunched up behind me, the first car being three or four car-lengths behind me.  If this same group had been behind me when I had stopped for the bear, I would have had rear-end damage as well as front-end damage.

Mel's first Reader article was "Bear Stories", published in the September 30, 1999 Northland Reader..

The current article was also published in the Reader Weekly, June 26, 2014 at