And other joys of country living.
A black bear has been getting into our garbage. None of us has seen him, but the littered lawn and crushed Rubbermaid garbage can give him away.
A few years ago bears were a bit of a nuisance around here. One especially large bear returned night after night to spread garbage all over the yard and into the woods. He then began to appear during the daytime too, becoming bolder and bolder. I worried about allowing the kids to play outside. But since forcing the kids to play outside is an essential part of my ability to maintain an almost sound mind, I was moved to take action.
I called the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department to ask what we could do. The nice lady who answered the phone assured me that no one has been killed by a black bear in New Hampshire in over 200 years. The stats on black bear maulings and maimings, however, were conveniently unavailable. The nice lady went on to tell me that I could buy “bear-proof” garbage cans for a mere $200 a piece. But if we couldn’t afford that, she explained, we could discourage bear visits simply by not keeping any trash in our trash cans. And by scrubbing them out daily with bleach or ammonia. It was right about then that I realized I was not speaking to a sane person.
A little ways down the road, though, we have a neighbor who teeters toward insanity on the opposite end of the spectrum. This man, whom I shall call Mr. X, is a quintessential old New Hampshire type. The type who owns several shotguns and doesn’t take kindly to government interference in his “private affairs.”
I bumped into Mr. X at the post office one day and asked if he had seen the bear near his house. He told me he had. And he further told me that he didn’t reckon that black bear was going to be a nuisance for too much longer. I didn’t ask how he knew.
He was right, though. It was not long after that our big bear friend stopped visiting. For good. In fact, I didn’t even think about him again until I saw Mr. X around town one day. With a twinkle in his eye, he asked if that bear had been around our place. When I told him no, he smiled at me broadly.
“Didn’t think so,” he said.
“Mr. X,” I dared to ask, “Did you do something to that bear?”
“Why no!” he gasped. “They’ve got laws against that kind of thing!”
So I was left to assume that the big old bear only moved on to greener pastures and tastier trash. Hmmmm, right. But I do wish this one would do the same.