Thursday, May 07, 2015

A Visiting Bear and a Near Car Wreck.

Or as I think of it, Thursday.

First, the visiting bear. I woke at 5 when the alarm went off, meditated, and harnessed the dogs for their first outside trip of the day. (They snored through the brief meditation portion of the morning.) I walked down the stairs and noticed that my neighbor's garbage can was on its side. No alarm bells; my neighbors are seniors, and he may have not noticed he bumped the can while leaving for his very early morning Thursday Bible study.

But then, as we were crossing to the Morning Pee Spot, I noticed many displaced garbage cans. One was on its side in the middle of the road, and nearly all were displaced many feet from where they started. Raccoons, coyotes, they just tip the can in place and paw through it. They can't pull the can into the road to get a better look under the street light. Garbage was strewn around all of the toppled cans, and many were nowhere near where they started the evening.

Yup, that was a bear. I love bears, I really do, and I wish I didn't have to be scared, but we've had several bear attacks in a five mile radius in the last year or two. And putting out your trash overnight brings all the bears to the yard. And as the garbage truck doesn't come until around 7:30, when I'm leaving for work, there really is no reason beyond sheer stupidity and laziness to put your trash out the night before. You prepare it the night before. When you get up in the morning, you drag it to the curb. If you are retired, well, good for you. You can still set your alarm for 7:15, put out the trash, and go back to bed. No excuses. None. But half the neighborhood doesn't quite believe we live in bear country, and I'm the one who has to watch nervously over my shoulder.

And of course, this was the morning that both dogs were taking their sweet time (probably sniffing interesting new animal smells) before taking a morning pee. I talked to them, loudly, the entire time, while scanning 360 degrees for movement in the shadows.

I told myself all day that the bear probably came through at 3 a.m., and I was in no danger. Then it struck me: Bible Study Neighbor is usually leaving on Thursday mornings as I am blearily walking the dogs. He is obsessively tidy, and his wife has health issues and he wouldn't leave her to clean up. He would never have left a dumped trash can and strewn trash behind if he saw it; he'd have stopped to clean it up. So I'm thinking the bear couldn't have passed by before he left, or too much before I took the dogs out. Once again, procrastination (and meditation) may have saved me from a close encounter of the ursine kind.

And so, I went on about my morning, and left for work. And came within less than six inches of smashing Baby the Loyal Subaru.

Picture an intersection: It points eastbound. There are four eastbound lanes at the traffic light. One lane turns northbound onto a major artery. Two turn southbound onto the same major artery. A single lane, to the left of the two southbound and the right of the single northbound, proceeds straight ahead. That was my lane. I had the green light. Traffic at both northbound and southbound lanes was stopped by red lights. I had the green, and was approaching the intersection, not speeding, paying attention, when a Shiny, Huge Ford Pickup (F-250 I think, red) which had been STOPPED in the closer southbound turn lane suddenly decided he didn't want to wait for that right turn after all, and yanked the wheel and floored it into my path, as I am approaching the crossing at oh, probably 35-40 mph. I had the green light, and the cross traffic was stopped. I wasn't speeding, and thank God I was paying attention and saw this huge red truck lunging into my path, while I am doing 35 miles an hour.

I stood on the brakes, and Baby, though elderly, is still quite nimble. I couldn't go left or right; there were cars stopped on either side. I turned veryslightly left, hoping to avoid slamming into the truck four times my size really hard, while calling the driver of the truck every obscenity I could muster and bracing for the impact. He screeched past my front bumper by, and I am NOT kidding at all, less than six inches. I really do not know how I missed hitting him.

The rest of the day was a piece of cake. I just have to start out with being afraid of a bear at 5 a.m. and a near car crash to make my work day tolerable.


ellen kirkendall said...

And I thought watching out for coyotes on a morning walk was bad! To be fair, in my area they are coywolves, but still...

Brenda said...

Do you report the bear or anything? Will the police or someone keep an eye out for it?I'm retired and I set my alarm for 6:30 on garbage day because we have small animals that will get into it.

My dad has a big red F-250, but he was here in Iowa this morning.

Catherine said...

If I saw the bear itself I could call it in and they'd send a deputy to follow it around in a car and keep an eye on it. But all I saw was evidence that it had recently passed through. Judging by the trail of garbage, it had gone on up the street and around the corner, and kept going.

Anonymous said...

Our ancient Subaru ( a 1991 2 wd Liberty) always felt very 'soft' in normal traffic braking.

But just throw out the anchors in an emergency and they were absolutely savage.

Bears - I'll bet Murphy is regretting the lost opportunity to demonstrate his mettle. Thank goodness. No bears here - just wallabies from the rough bushland across the road.

Gae, in Callala Bay

Catherine said...

Gae, yes! I had no idea Baby's emergency braking power was that savage and precise until put to the test. The old girl is fierce!