~beartime story~

June 29th, 2017

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“You got yourself a big ol’ bear down by your mailbox,” says the Internet repair guy. He has a funny smile on his face I can’t read. “Biiig one, tearing it up down there.”
“A bear is tearing up my mailbox?”
“Well, not now,” he says, shrugging. “Fur’s all over that utility pole. Claw marks like this.” He swipes widely at the air in front of my face.

Then he swipes through his phone to show me photographs he’s made of the damage: deep grooves and tufts of brown kinky fur, lighter than you’d expect. He’s swiftly scoots past a grinning selfie he’s taken at the scene of the crime.

“See, the transformers kinda vibrate and hum–sometimes if it’s quiet enough you can hear ’em–and the bears think there’s a hive up there. They want that honey!”

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Yesterday we had our first bear sighting. A mama chased a baby across the road and up a pine tree, right in front of our car. Then she peeked around to spy on us. They were smaller than California bears I’ve seen, and totally enchanting. Most auspicious! I’d said to Alfonso. Now I’m not so sure.

The tech peers through windows that circle the room. “Mind me asking why you rent this and not that other one?” He’s referring to the empty house across the way. “Don’t get me wrong, just that one has that nice porch, and it’s just right there,” he gestures to where our car is parked directly beside the vacant kitchen. “Here you got a long walk with your groceries!”

There are a couple yards of mild incline between our car and front door. I consider mentioning that in either house, twice a month we’ll travel fifty miles round trip just to get those groceries, so what’s a few more steps? At least when we hunt for dinner, we get more than a mouth full of bait-and-switch phone pole.

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But the thought’s interrupted by a vaguely recollected video of bruins blissfully rubbing against trees to Jungle Boogie, especially off-putting paired with footage shot in a forrest. The narrator, a Brit I generally adore, refers to the bears as pole dancers. Probably I should ask this technician to turn my Internet back off. Grin and bear it!

“You don’t think they’re marking territory, or maybe back-scratching?” He nods, not really conceding my point of view, then rolls his eyes, waving the other screen in his hand. “They gave me this new equipment, so I guess I’m using it! Says here your neighbors had an outage June 16th too, signal came back around 2pm just like yours did.”

“Maybe it was bears,” I suggest, and watch his truck back down the long drive.

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I wait until he’s long gone to investigate the pole. It’s mauled in a clearly bear-ish manner, with teeth marks even, starting about seven feet high right down to two feet from the ground.

A quick search using my now solid Internet shows males are prone during mating season (May-June), but black bears of both genders do it. They will use trees but preferring utility poles, and leave their winter fur to be bleached by summer sun.

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