|Nature at our doorstep|
Over the years my partner and I have made major life changes, sacrifices some may say. These were done for a variety of reasons, but one of the main reasons is so we could be surrounded by nature on a daily basis.
Our rural community of 10,000 people shares the land with one of the highest concentrations of black bears and cougars in the world. Nature still rules here - we are wedged between the wilderness of the hills and forest on one side, and the wilderness of the ocean on the other. It is rugged and less civilized, just the way we like it.
It is so wild in fact, that last week I had to go no further than the living room window to see a black bear. I grabbed the binoculars and settled in. The large bear was across the river from us, and on the beach. I watched it eating, sitting on its haunches pulling berry-laden branches down to its big pink mouth.
When it finished eating it began to amble along the beach, without worry and exuding confidence and calm. All of a sudden it began to run, and it was scary fast. I was glad I was viewing it from a distance, and not doing the 50 yard dash to the closest tree.
|Vancouver Island Black Bear|
Still watching the bear through the binoculars, I then got to see it go for a swim. It went right into the deep water of the river, and completely immersed itself except for its nose, eyes, and two round ears. How could such a large predator vanish like that? Bear stealth mode.
It lolled about in the water, and since it was a hot day I could hardly blame it. After a few minutes it exited the water, shook off like a big, plush doggy, and disappeared into the shadow of the forest.
I thought about my bear experience this week when I heard of a Vancouver Island man in Campbell River who, while walking down the street, encountered a large black bear. Stunned, he dropped to the sidewalk and played dead. The man said that the bear sniffed at him for a few minutes before walking away.
The traumatized dude, completely unhurt, said that the unbelievably pungent odor of the magnificent creature is what he will remember most. If that were me lying there on the sidewalk pretending I'm dead, the bear wouldn't be the only smelly thing around.
But that is what we like about Vancouver Island - it is wild. It keeps us on our toes and reminds us of our connection to, and dependence on, natural systems. It hones our survival instincts and skills - we aren't as soft and unprepared as we used to be.