Friday, June 08, 2007

“Split”-rail: a story of Bruno

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Our neighbors have built a beautiful stone-and-split-rail fence at the boundary of our adjoining property lines. I just love it.

We have a new bear in the neighborhood. I haven’t had the privilege of seeing him yet, but he’s been visiting neighbor Aileen for about a week now. She tells me he’s BIG. Actually, he’s not really ‘new;’ only to our yards. Luke [our resident teen who lives down the street and takes care of our cats when we’re gone and walks Kim’s dogs] has seen him before. Makes sense with all the cubs we have running around.

A few days ago around 7:15 a.m., Aileen called me to tell me he was headed our way. I held the dogs inside and ran from window to window like a little kid. Watching. Waiting. He didn’t make an appearance. Darn. Then my other neighbor, Kim, called the next night at 7:15 p.m. to tell us she just had a visit from the bear and he was now entering our front yard. We didn’t hear the phone ring, [watching TV in the other room] and didn’t pick up her message until the bear was long gone. Missed him again.

The day before yesterday the dogs were all “on alert.” It was a lovely cool day with a strong breeze blowing. I had both sliding doors in the sunroom open and they were all laying in the draft. I was sitting close by, reading. They started barking and almost went through the screen door. I told them to be quiet, but they kept on barking furiously. I got up and looked out the door. Nothing. Probably a dumb squirrel again. We went through this whole routine again about five times over the next hour or so.  Barking first in one direction, then in the other. I was getting a bit tired of this, as you can imagine, and finally I very firmly had to tell them to STOP IT! [okay, I yelled, I admit it; stomped my feet and threatened the pound] Hmpf ... fat lot of good that did, they know I’m only bluffing. A stong breeze blew through the room and they all lifted their noses and sniffed. Even the cats! It was a surreal moment. I sniffed too. I didn’t smell a thing, but they certainly did.

Okay, okay, I finally told them after another bout of barking. I will do a proper walk-around. I went into the back yard to take a look. Right. You’ve heard the expression “can’t see the forest for the trees?” Well, I can certainly relate because I can’t see the forest for the trees. It’s a jungle out there! Anyway, I walked around the back yard and to the back fence and peered into the woods. Nothing but trees.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Into the front yard. Nothing. Okay. Around to the side yard by the garage and I see something has changed.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

The beautiful stone-and-split-rail fence is down. Not only down, it’s ... well ... downright split asunder!

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

As much as I love the fence, BRUNO,  [yes, I named him Bruno. He had to have a name; everyone else does!] however, does not. He just decided to go right through it instead of around it or over it. I immediately felt chastened, and was sorry I had yelled at the dogs. They knew. When will I learn to trust them? When they are that adamant about barking, it must be a bear. Please help me remember that in the future. He must have come through the fence the first time they nearly went through the screen since they were pointed in that direction.

When I called neighbor Aileen to tell her that her fence was broken, she said it wasn’t the first part of the fence that he’s taken down. He took down another section a few days ago and her husband wasn’t very happy with him. No, not likely. I told her about the dogs’ reaction. A few hours later she was calling me to tell me that the dog’s were spot-on: the bear had an encounter with her husband down by their chicken yard. The bear just sauntered on by, headed in our direction [again]. Rick had just arrived home from work, so we kept the dogs in and walked to the back of the yard to see if we could spot him in the woods. No such luck. If the fence incident hadn’t happened, I’d be thinking he was a figment of Aileen’s imagination at this point.

It kind of reminds me of Jaws where the music starts and builds and you know he’s coming but you can’t see him yet: 
da ... da
da ... da
da . da
da . da
dadadadadada ...

Where will he show up [or not] next?

Only one thing. You see, it’s mating season for black bears as they mate from late May through early July, with June being the prime time. Just what we need is a BIG randy bear breaking up fences and looking for love. I, for one, plan to stay out of his path. Yoo-hooooo! ... oh, Doris ... oh, Ursa ... wherefore art thou ladies?



I could hear the music from Jaws even before you mentioned it. Yikes!! There’s so much nature where you are, Lynne! And yes by all means, stay clear of Bruno. Wow!!

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