Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Of a Bear

Hiding in the blackness and shadows of the forest,
is a Bear.
A big one.

Her wet nose makes her cute and cuddly,
her glassy dark eyes give her depth and character,
even a bit of a sense of humor.
In an over-dressed fur coat,
she seems absolutely approachable. 

But make no mistake,
this Bear is a fierce wild animal.
The essence of the name enthrones her
as the queen,
the very top of the food chain.
Above us.
Which doesn't happen often.

This Matriarch of the last of our wild places,
she's a reflection of her environment...
rugged and rough like the Northern Rockies.
Snow and scarce food make her grumpy,
people too close to her children make her uncomfortable,
even irate.

Which is why we love her,
Why she is steeped in such reverence and regard.
Because everyone knows you don't mess with a Mama Bear.

Every once in awhile,
you hear of a misguided tourist 
dabbling in home video or wildlife photography,
a touch too close to our cartooned black beauty.
The result usually ends in front-page headlines,
and a dead animal.

Sometimes the encounter is purely chance.
 A startled hiker and bear are caught in the terrifying dance
of two predators vying for space and safety,
and hopefully they find a way to two-step their way out of it.
This is always the goal in the backcountry,
but not always the result.

Sometimes the only response when coming face to face with an adversary
 is a combination of territorial behavior,
motherly instinct, bad attitude, and truly wild energy.
The kind that sends hackles down the neck.
 Alive and acutely aware of danger,
the trespasser and trespass-e stand off a bitter battle of space,
both smelling the danger rising in the air,
blood-red veins pumping fast and furious,
 eardrums buzzing like angry bees.

Something that we,
as humans,
do not experience often.

The caveman parts of our brain
are buried deep in our civilized ways.
We have tried, since the beginning of time,
to avoid, conquer, and extinguish
the remote possibility of our second-rate predation. 

We try very hard to believe we are on top.

As an avid and sometimes terrified tourist,
and as a hiker on that trail where bears live,
I must say....

that kind of energy within our wild mountains
inspires me to be a better human.
The hackles down my neck remind me I am ONLY human.
I am merely a participant in the web,
not the epicenter of it. 

The buzz of my eardrums and heart palpitations 
in the presence of something more powerful than me

 is an honor.

This piece inspires me to walk a little lighter,
and pay homage to the frightening woman in the woods.
For without her,
I fear our place in the ecosystem will always be self-applauding.
I fear our hubris as the human species,
and find the humility this gorgeous species provides
a comfort.

To the Mama Bear.
May she always be feared.


*Mama Bear of the Woods*

100% hand-fabricated and created,
with reverence and regard.
Sterling Silver and a tiny 14K gold *berry* nestled in foliage,
Crazy Lace Agate.
In the Shop.