Jan. 15, 2013 — Every year at Christmas time, I make cookies according to my mother’s recipe. Timing is critical: Made too soon, the cookies never leave the house — I eat them. Also too, every year after Christmas I swear I will never make the darn things again, but somehow the deed gets done.
Christmas Eve, the last batch of cookies was being rolled into balls at the kitchen table when there was movement in the apple tree off the back deck. Being as it was a dead still day further investigation was required. In the branches of the tree was a bear cub. There were still plenty of apples left on the bare branches of the tree and this cub was determined to get at ’em.
It would hook a claw on a branch and very slowly draw the prize towards him. He did this about five times, losing the apple at the very last moment until he finally got one and began to munch on the fruit.
Gotta get a picture of this. But my camera was in the truck, which was parked in the driveway next door. The path to the camera was through the back deck, which would surely spook the cub should I go that way. But wait; there was my old Nikon 35mm somewhere. It was found in the second closet searched, but there wasn’t any film in the camera bag.
I tore through the house rummaging through drawers that hadn’t been opened in years until finally I found a roll of film and checked to see if the little beasty was still there. Yep, dozing in the sunshine on a tree branch. Now the problem was to remember how to load film. Then the oven timer went off telling me it was time to get the cookies out; that done, I couldn’t remember what counter I put the camera on. Finally, after finding the thing and fumbling with the camera for about 10 minutes I was able to take a picture.
But the cub was nestled in a cage of branches and a clear shot wasn’t available. Taking a chance, I eased opened the back door in an attempt for a better picture and, sure enough, the cub flashed down the tree and was gone. Later I realized that the ASA setting was wrong for that film and there wasn’t any way of knowing if the picture would come out.
As it turned out all the drama and panic wasn’t required. The baby bear returned and hung around for the next five days. I got some good photos of him but wondered why there was no sign of Mom. It appeared that the little critter was an orphan. I called around, but couldn’t find anyone interested in intervening.
Bears aren’t my favorite kind of people, but this little waif pulled at my heartstrings, despite the sure knowledge that it would become a large and destructive pest as an adult. It’s gone now, as are the apples, but in its wake there are many piles of evidence left behind on my back deck.
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