Where the Wild Things Are

Summer typically represents a time when I can ease up on my daily worrying. This time of year, certain worries fade away…worries such as avalanches, icy roads, freezing pipes and a stubborn husband who refuses to wear a helmet when he skis through the trees.

But this summer, a whole list of items can keep me up at night. First, it is a bit disconcerting to know that it’s not a question of whether the forest surrounding your home will burn, it’s a question of when. Then there’s the stubborn husband who refuses to wear a helmet when he bikes through the trees. And, this week, there was the one worry I have been just waiting to add to the official worry list.

It was Sunday night when I heard my husband ever-so-calmly call, “You have got to see the giant bear on our deck.” 

I jumped out of bed but missed the sight of a 350-pound black bear munching dog food an inch from our front door.

I always thought that I wanted to see a bear in person, but the idea that there was one in the neighborhood made me want to move away. I’m sure a lot of this new fear has to do with the fact that I now have a cub of my own to protect. Oh, and there was that Fox special “When Bears Attack” that I actually sat through last week.
I know my reaction let my husband down. We used to be a couple of die-hards. Our bridal registry was at REI. We camped on our honeymoon. I’ve always had an I-don’t-care-how-cold-or-dirty-I-get sort of spirit when it comes to the Great Outdoors.

If you could see a photo of the area in which we live, you’d question why I haven’t seen bears up to now. You’d also question why we had dog food on our front porch. And you’d wonder what a wimp like me is doing living up here.

“You wouldn’t have been so scared if you had seen him,” my husband said. “He was cute.” A bear loses all cuteness when he tries to get inside my house. Anything that is more than 300 pounds takes a dive on my cute-meter anyway, and he became still less cute when I discovered that he had etched two giant claw marks in the paint of my brand new car.

Ty thinks it’s downright silly to be scared of bears, but I’m not sure he’s a good judge. There’s a fair amount of the “Crocodile Hunter” in him. He teases rattlesnakes. He drinks the water downstream from beaver dams. He uses his rock-climbing ropes as dog leashes.

But I thought many women were more-or-less united on the idea that giant animals are scary. Not true. Y’all are brave. One friend, who recently moved from the suburbs, mentioned nonchalantly that bears used to break into her garage. Two neighbors told me they were happy the bears were back. They hadn’t seen them in a while.

So, never to admit that I’m not as cut out for this country life as my friends, I have refused to let myself lose any sleep over it. Still, I’ve put the hiking boots and the baby backpack away for awhile. Instead, we’re on our way to the city to play in Grandma’s wading pool. Next week, I’m sure we’ll venture into the woods once again where we can see all the “cute” wildlife up close and personal. But I’m taking one of those neighbors with me.

Summer officially starts on Tuesday. And whether you spend it in the Great Outdoors or the air-conditioned living room, there are all kinds of ways to enjoy yourself.
We know that, sometimes, getting out for a weekend in the woods, or even for just a relaxing picnic, can spell a whole lot more work for mom, so we're featuring an article that will ensure you’re always ready to go: “How to Make a Picnic Kit for Your Home or Car" from Fabulous Foods.

And our humor columnist Linda Sharp shares a heartwarming essay about her husband and the father to her children. She likens his presence to that of a “special toy they are only allowed to play with once a day...” Don't miss "In Praise of Daddy."