Mother Instinct


I was just reading about that Grizzly Man movie and so I think the time has come to tell a vacation story.

Lady Steed and I went to Lake Tahoe (near Emerald Bay, for you enthusiasts) last week with her family and camped. When we arrived, we were told that there had not been any bears seen for nine days so we figured we were as safe from bearkind as from megalonyxkind.

One afternoon, the Big O and I walked down to the bathrooms to wash his hands and excited city folk ran past us in order to See the Bear.

Big O and I took a few steps beyond the bathrooms and then we too could See the Bear.

It was a smallish but definitely adult black bear.

The Big O and I watched the bear as our fellow campers banged pots and threw rocks. We got to see the bear climb a dead tree and climb down again and then run off over the hill. O loved it. He pointed and said "Uh! Uh! Uh!" which, best I can tell, means, "Saints alive! Nature at its finest! What wonders hath God wrought!"

We washed his hands and headed back to our camp. We passed Lady Steed and her mother coming to see the now vamoosed bear and to aid in its expulsion by aid of an airhorn.

Meanwhile, the Big O and I were back at camp, hanging out, chillin. Well, I was chillin; Big O was uhuhuhing for another bear.

We sat there, O on my lap, then my father-in-law said, "There's the bear!"

Sure enough, about twenty feet from O and I (about the distance from you and your next dietary transgression) was a smallish but definitely adult black bear.

The first thought I remember having was, "No, in fact I should not get closer that O may have a better look," which suggests I may have previously thought "I should get closer that O may have a better look," but I don't think I actually thought that.

Before O and I could do much more than point and be excited, we were attacked by a horrendous noise behind us.

The bear had come between Lady Steed and her cub and now faced her motherly wrath.

The blast scared off the bear, but it also terrified O who clung to me with all his might and went catatonic for the next half hour. Once he unburied his face from my neck, he would only stare off into space.

Meanwhile, the inlaws and I swapped fun bear stories.

And I failed to be a sensitive husband, not noticing that Lady Steed was in almost as much shock as the Big O.

I was laughing and teasing while she was recovering from a near miss.

The bear had, after all, arrived unnoticed at a spot where the Big O had wandered alone, collecting rocks, just the day before.

Now, maybe children need one parent to point at bears and one parent to save them from bears being pointed at, I can't say. But I do think Lady Steed showed remarkable presence of mind and an instinct-fast thought process while I was just going, "Oo! Bear!"

Which, to be frank, will probably be a pattern the Big O will have to learn to recognize and compensate for.

Lesson: Point at your own risk.


  1. Strange that you know both Nemesis and Master and Mrs. FoB. Makes me wonder if I know you, but I really don't think I do. But I also didn't think that Nemesis had any connection to the FoBs either, except through me. All strange and disorienting at 9:00 in the morning, when I am tempted to call Nemesis and demand she tell me how she knows you.

    Also, I started posting a bear story, but then it got to be long, so I decided I should just post it on my blog. This isn't a lame attempt to lure you in, but I'm just saying that if you want a story that involves a bear, old people, and an air horn, then you know where to get it.

  2. .

    I'm excited to read it and shall momentarily.

    When Foxy J learned that I knew Miss Nemesis, she was startled also. In fact, I know her quite well. But I'll let her tell the story.

  3. Wait, who's Foxy J? And who are the FoBs? I am so confused. It's very wearing, being the center of the universe.

  4. And the next time you see a black bear, if it should happen to charge you, do NOT play dead! Ever! That's the one thing I remember from my sojourn in the Great White North.

  5. (Well that should clear things up.)