Where’s the Bear?

It seems that everyone on my street has seen the neighborhood bear except me. “Didn’t you see him yesterday between those two houses?” the neighbors asked. Or, “I just saw him in the bushes in your back yard,” someone else said. So I look and I look, but I don’t see him.

By now I am feeling like my granddaughter Sophia, who when she was about four years old and squeezed between her two older sisters in the back seat of my car, was dismayed that she didn’t get to see a dead skunk in the road. I didn’t know why she started crying just after I announced, “Phew! There’s a dead skunk in the road!” but when I asked her she said, “I didn’t get to see the dead skunk. Everybody gets to see the dead skunk in the road except me.” My husband and I often repeat her statement whenever we have any kind of disappointment that leaves us feeling left out.

But I didn’t want to be disappointed this time. I was determined to see the bear. I heard from one neighbor that the bear began his rounds just before dawn, so I programmed my coffeemaker to brew a pot of coffee at 5:00 AM last Sunday morning.  Up by 5:30 AM, I turned a chair toward the window in my living room. I sipped coffee and I waited. Surely he would appear to munch on the wild plums by our driveway. We had seen the scat that proved he enjoyed those quite a bit! So I stared at those bushes, but I saw nothing.

My cat Molly settled in to watch with me although she didn’t know what we were watching for. Filling the morning quiet with her gentle purr, she seemed clearly pleased that I had gotten up so early just to sit with her. Or so she thought.

I’m guessing that if you’ve read this far you are ready to hear, “At last, there he was—the bear!” But nope. No bear. Yet sitting silently as the sun cast a pink light on the mountains, I realized there was so much more to observe. Molly and I heard a couple of squirrels chattering quietly to one another about their plans for the day. We saw a hummingbird silhouetted at the feeder, his feathers all ruffled up with morning dew.

Although I hadn’t opened my Bible yet, I knew it was replete with verses to speak into our morning watch. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24) I whispered to Molly. I didn’t see the bear, but I did see wonderful reminders of the glory in each new day—and of how we should honor God by watching vigilantly as He unfolds it.

I’m glad I didn’t miss that early morning watch, but I’d still love to see the neighborhood bear before he goes into hibernation, his belly full of our wild plums. If you happen to see him, please tell me. Oh, and if you see a dead skunk in the road, please tell Sophia.


  1. Elizabeth Van Liere says:

    Isn’t it great to live where bears and deer come to visit? My grandson, in Telluride, dropped a bag of groceries and bent to pick it up. As he stood up he found himself eye to eye with a deer. They also had a bear on their patio and a bear in the cul du sac below their place. The neighbors were out in force, banging on pots and pans to shoo him away. My granddaughter-in-law said, “Since we moved there I’ve become a Tellurite–“Don’t kill the bears!”
    We had a bear cub in one of our apple trees a few years ago and we find evidence of deer eating out greenery, but haven’t seen them in our yard.
    Your column is great, Nancy. God often sends the unexpected (the sunrise) to take the place of the looked-for, (bear), doesn’t He. Love reading your writing. Betty

  2. I think the bear in your neighborhood takes a bus (or taxi) to our neighborhood to search for food at night. The family up the street has given their teen son the responsibility of taking out the trash each evening. He doesn’t put it in the garage, so the next morning it’s all over the alley and the park.
    I’ve never seen him, but the kids across the street have; they took their video camera, hoping for a funny shot for Funniest Home Videos, probably. Wish someone else had had a video to film them running from the bear.
    Bear stories are the best.
    Thanks for my new phrase when I’m disappointed: “Everybody gets to see a dead skunk except me.”

  3. Nancy,
    I don’t feel so alone now– because i have yet to see our neighborhood bear. Some neighbors have fruit trees and the bear visit them all the time.
    But what a glorious way to start the day–seeing God’s beauty.
    I do hope we get to see our neighborhood bears!

    • I finally saw our neighborhood bear TODAY! He was enjoying the neighbors’ garbage. Very BIG guy! Hope you get to see yours, too–from a distance!

  4. Loved this. I’ll forward it to others.

  5. Thanks, Sue. See my comment above–I saw the bear!!

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