Our Version of “Ma Slapped a Bear”

eyes in dark As I mentioned last week, Cait makes sure Finn is in every night. On a recent night, the time got away from her before she realized that it was dark and Finn was not yet securely locked in the house.

So she started the nightly ritual of calling out while banging on Finn’s food can. Within minutes, he always appears.

But this night, still no Finn after several minutes of banging and calling.

Worried, Cait ran back in the house asking for help. She took the front of the house, and I took the back by the woods, both of us banging and calling. Hurrying, neither of us thought to grab a flashlight.

A few more minutes passed, when I saw the shadow of Cait start jogging down our road. I yelled out to her to see if she’d found Finn.

She called back, saying that she saw his eyes glowing in the dark and was in hot pursuit.

Great, I thought, as I started walking back to the house. That was until I felt something rubbing against my legs. I nearly jumped out of my skin! I looked down to find the wayward Finn doing figure eights around my legs.

That meant that whatever Cait was chasing was… not Finn. Not wanting to scare her, and definitely not wanting her to catch whatever she was tailing, I hurried to the road and called her back.

I saw that she’d made it to the turn in the road. I could see her trotting and stopping, trotting and stopping, as the glowing eyes trotted and stopped to look back.

Annoyed that my presence might jinx her near capture of what she thought was Finn, she shushed me and told me to stay back.

At that point, I told her I had Finn in my arms and she should return to me immediately.

Even in the dark, I could see her do a double-take. Aided by a burst of adrenalin, she seemed to cover the quarter mile between us in one gigantic leap.

As she held on to me to help steady her weak knees, she said with nervous laughter, “Yup that’s me. Just chasing any pair of random eyes down the road. My version of “Ma slapped a bear.”

What she was referring to was a scene in one of the Little House on the Prairie books. Pa is off hunting, so Ma has to tend to the evening chores by herself. She walks out to the field where they keep their cow, and slaps the cow’s rear to get it to move away from the gate so she can open it. Only what she finds out is that the cow is not the cow, but a black bear!

As we walked back to the house, she asked what I thought she might have been chasing.

Around our parts, there aren’t any bears (thankfully) but we do have plenty of coyotes, foxes, raccoons, opossums, woodchucks, and any number of other cat-sized critters that it could have been. I answered, “From the eyes and the gait, my money’s on a young coyote. They’re one of the few animals I know of that will stop and turn to look back like that.”

Cait, still nervously laughing, said, “It’d be kinda fun to have a little coyote as a pet.” Then I watched her throw a cautious glance over her shoulder to make sure the coyote wasn’t thinking the same thing.

Life in the country. Gotta love it!

11 thoughts on “Our Version of “Ma Slapped a Bear””

  1. This reminded me of two things.
    1) The wacky parents in western national parks who tell their kids “stand closer to the moose, you’re not in the picture.” Really.

    2) Our years in an inner city rehab district where you did not take out the trash once the sun went down because the raccoons were bigger than bear cub. They would come lumbering up out of the storm sewers and they were a frightening sight.

    Yours seems to have some fear left, not these ones.

  2. Likely kitty was spared from becoming dinner for someone!! Our kitty became loud and horrible sounding one night as hubby was working in the garage, in the mountainside home we lived in a few years ago. Turns out a young cougar was just outside the door, which was open. We should have known to be more careful because we had not seen the wild turkeys or deer for awhile and also the wild kitties we fed had disappeared plus the smart cat we had refused to leave the garage for a couple weeks prior to that. I was kind of ready to move at that point, between that and the rattlesnakes. Though I have missed the beauty and peace of that place since too!! Nothing for free I guess…
    Elizabeth

  3. The cabin we stayed in wasn’t part of a campground at all. It was right on the tip of the Keweenaw Penisula. The locals had told us beforehand that black bears hadn’t been seen in those parts for years….huh, huh, hee, hee. The day after “The Experience with Cujo”….(and yes, I realize Cujo was a dog, but in my mind this bear morphed into Cujo nonetheless)…the locals were quick to say, and I quote, “Oh THAT bear, didn’t know you meant THAT bear. He’s been lurking around here for sometime now, and did you know he was seven feet tall?….huh, huh, hee, hee”. Thanks folks. Gotta love that quaint UP sense of humor, no doubt their attempt to scare away vacationers from ever returning! “Red Haired Running Bear Bait”…this is my official Indian name in the UP…..

  4. edj, in the daylight, I can say that it was pretty funny actually. Though I love coyotes, ditto on them (or any other wildlife) not making good pets!

    Cindy! Oh. My. Word! Yikes! That’s why I never camp in camping areas, because too many bears have become acclimated to associating humans with a food source. Though I’m sure it was quite a sight to see you fly around the corner of the house with feet barely touching the ground! hehe.

  5. Two summers ago we vacationed in a cabin on Lake Superior. We’d been out strolling at twilight admiring the stars and the warm evening, when no sooner had we gotten back into the cabin I heard the outside trash cans make that familiar sound that said….”Raccoons”! Not realizing they usually do this MUCH later at night, (being nocturnal…duh!)….I walked around the side of the cabin so I could get a better look. What faced me instead was a big black bear! I was no more then five feet from her, he…it. I opened my mouth to scream and nothing came out. I made the mad dash into the cabin in one leap…which had to be comical since I had to leap AROUND the side of the cabin, still don’t know how I did it, but I crashed through the kitchen door in one fell swoop and slammed it shut. We spent the next two hours trying to scare this bear away with all kinds of unholy racket through the windows…..but he/she/it would not go. This bear obviously had become so accustomed to people that we couldn’t scare it off, which is such a sad commentary really. The he/she/it bear (I just realized you don’t want to say that fast…sorry) finally lumbered away, went down to the lake, drank water and wandered off down the shoreline. All I could think of was Cujo….and I shook for a long time. This is my one and only “Almost-Near-Death-by-Wildlife Story”….it will be my last.
    (BTW, I love that your Cait has read the “Little House” books….my girls have too!

  6. Hehehe. I love that she said it was her version of Ma slapped a bear! Glad the young coyote didn’t share her view of what makes a good pet ;)

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