Friday, July 14, 2006

Bear with me.

Now it can be told: the good news--I won in the Heart and Stroke Lottery! Before you reach for the phone I have to tell you the bad news: they left four zeros off the cheque. Sorry, guys.

I have just come back from more Adirondack camping. From the moment you check in you're cautioned about not encouraging the bears--even asked to sign a waiver confirming that you've had the Bear Riot Act read to you and that you understand that you can be ejected if you encourage the bears in any way (suggestive leers? scanty clothing?)

Well, it's been over thirty years now since I first dragged my two older children there, in what was a very lucky chance find. I've returned several times every year since--and never seen a bear apart from the ones slumming it at the Long Lake town dump. I began to suspect a tourist come-on, and was the only camper around who didn't have a near-death bear story to share. Kind friends were even offering to pour their old bacon grease round my campsite to up the ante.

It finally happened; I had my nose deep in a book (familiar Gill posture) when one apparently walked right by me. A group of bystanders hollered frantically to get my attention, and hustled me up the hill where I spotted it, a nice young teenage bear with a lovely pelt. For all I know it could have been making free with my campsite while I slept, especially the times I go early in the year, when I'm sometimes one of the two or perhaps three campers there.

I still think the human is the more dangerous animal.

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