Rhymes, Rants & Accolades from North Central BC

Archive for January, 2018


May 3, 1979 Sense and Nonsense

Art Linkletter once wrote a book entitled “‘Kids Say The Darndest Things”. I am sure most parents and other observers of small children will agree with the title – kids do say the darndest things!

The other day our four-year-old daughter asked me to help catch flies for her “pet spider”. My lecture on the friendliness of spiders had worked too well! One night she was scared stiff because she had discovered a spider on her bed. I flicked him onto the floor, telling her “spiders are nice”, “spiders do not bite” etc. The next day I caught her sprinkling oatmeal on her rug for “Peter” the spider. Possibly all this concern for the illusive (haven’t seen him since) spiders’ appetite is governed more by fear than love for her latest “pet”!

Small children pick up expressions which are sometimes irritating. My neighbors’ three –year-old had a habit of saying “big deal” in a derisive tone of voice. When chastised about it, she burst into tears, then plaintively asked, “Can I say, ‘little deal’, Mommy?”

Last summer I was saved in the nick of time from the formidable task of having to explain the facts of life to my daughter. I believe children’s questions should be answered honestly and intelligently when they reach the age of understanding (approximately 18-2 1 years). However the mare next door had just given birth to a foal and I had to answer the inevitable question, “Where did it come from?”

“Uh, er … well, from Sparkle’s tummy,” I mumbled honestly and intelligently. The ringing of the telephone saved me from having to answer her next question, “Did she swallow it?”

Television provides a wealth of information to to-day’s children. I am sure most of them know far more about almost everything than we did at the same age. However there are sometimes some surprising gaps in their education. A friends’ seven-year-old accompanied her into a building where a portrait of the Queen, wearing her ceremonial crown and sash was displayed predominately on one wall.

“Do you know what that lady is?” my friend inquired of her daughter. The little girl hesistated. She remembered watching a bathing beauty pageant on T.V. the night before. “I think she is Miss Canada,” she decided happily.

Our small daughter has a dreadful time accepting the word “no” for an answer. Consequently, I sometimes find myself using the word “maybe” a lot. A short time ago I realized my mistake in constantly utilizing that word. I had repeated it for the umpteenth time that day in answer to her requests.

“Mommy,” she cajoled, You can say ‘yes’ better than that!”

Yes, kids do say the darndest things!


May 31st/79 Sense and Nonsense

The 1979 federal election is finally over. The battles have all been fought, the dust has settled and soon a new Prime Minister will be crowned in Ottawa.

Walt Kelly, who drew the comic strip “POGO” in the nineteen fifties and sixties, was quite a satirist. The creatures he created spent much of their time discussing, and being involved in, federal politics. I would like to include some typical “Pogo-isms” which may remind us of present day politics

Pogo Possum finds himself running as a presidential candidate against his will. He states firmly, “If nominated I will not run. If elected I will not serve!” His friends decide that this is a novel and probably an effective platform.

Owl says, “You live up to that an’ mebbee you jes the type man we bin needin all along. People kin count on promises like that!”

Rabbit adds, “We’s had public officials in our time what dee-livered that  an’ never even promised it.”

Pogo’s campaign manager advises Pogo, “The truth is tricky. One man’s truth is another man’s cold broccoli…. Our job is to make the truth tasty!”

A reporter suggests to Pogo that he must be “middle of the road” in his politics. He explains. “The Liberal way (which used to be left) is in the middle of the road, the road having moved to the left. The Conservative way likewise, as the road going the other way, has shifted to the right.  So both positions now overlap each other in the middle.” He concludes. “As a candidate you’ve got to be in the middle. What other way is there?”

Pogo’s friends discuss the lack of voters in the area (there are 3).  Everyone else is in jail and / or dead.

Albert Alligator defends the dearly departed: “Since when is it a crime to be dead. In my time a whole cemetery-ful of constituents could sweep you into office!”

P.T. Bridgeport, Pogo’s self-proclaimed advisor, berates Pogo for stating an opinion, “As a candidate you should answer controversial questions with ‘No comment’. You must word answers so that you don’t spoil the questions!”

Congressmaan Frog suggests: “It is dangerous to allow everyone to vote – there should be a Sanity Test for voters. We let anybody over 21 go in there and lay the country on the line!”

Porky decides that the candidate need not prove himself sane: “To be sane in an insane world would be incongruous.” He suggests they “Affirm the world is insane and elect a nutty leader to cope with it.”

The three bat boys are polling the electorates. Pogo wonders how they “works their polls.”

Owl answers, “Jes like all the other ones do. You tell them what answers you want and they works out a formula of questions to get it. Presto!… Instant placebo!”

The political scenes have changed considerably since Walt Kelly drew his comic strip. However, I am wondering if elections have changed?


OCTOBER 25, 1979. Sense and Nonsense

The panty-hose has to be one of the greatest inventions in recent history. It replaced the stocking, (both of them) and all the contrivances formerly used to hold them in place. Many of us remember the garter belt (shudder!) Their lumpy fasteners ruined our comfort and our silhouettes. They weren’t that reliable either. The well dressed ladies of the pre-pantyhose era always kept a safety pin handy in case of garter belt failure!

“Crooked seams” and “runs below the knees”. Those dreaded occurrences were a constant peril to the women who bought, wore and cherished the now obsolete nylon stockings. Thank goodness they are a thing of the past! Pantyhose do develop runs, but not as easily nor as “shocking” in appearance as the old nylon stockings did. I had thought that I had suffered all the embarrassment known to women who have ever worn stockings. “Garter belt failure”, “crooked seams” and “runs below the knee” were the bane of my youth. In contrast, my pantyhose years had developed within me, a sense of security. I felt I presented a reasonably neat, poised, and sometimes an even well-dressed appearance to the world. That is – until one day last summer.

After parking the truck in a hotel parking lot, my friend and I proceeded uphill to the sidewalk. The small town seemed fairly quiet that morning, there was hardly anyone on the street. The drapes were drawn on all but a few of the hotel windows. It was going to be a hot day. I felt a trifle overdressed in my short sleeved knit, wide-legged pantsuit, sandals and short nylon “knee-high” stockings. However I had dressed hurriedly that morning because of an early appointment. As I approached the sidewalk I suddenly noticed I had two right feet!

An empty nylon foot dangled down beside my own. “A nylon knee-high must have become trapped in my pant leg during the last wash,” I thought. . No problem. I casually glanced around and then bent over, intending to quickly whip out the small piece of material and then unobtrusively place it in my purse.

Horrors! The thing had grown! It was long – yards of it! What to do? Stuff it back in?? It was too late for that!  Still bent over, I spun around in a circle, clutching the thing as one would hang onto a snake. There was no place to hide!

“Is anyone coming? Can you see anyone?” In a panic, I pleaded with my friend. She did not answer. She appeared to be helpless – eyes watering, body shaking! She held her hand over her mouth, but little sounds were escaping…?

I managed to retrieve the last of the seemingly endless stretch of brown nylon from my pant leg. I was sure that at least half the people in town must have observed my frantic efforts as I struggled with my uninvited pair of pantyhose!

I do think pantyhose are a great invention, but that particular pair were resting unceremoniously in a garbage can, when I last saw them.



March 1, 79  Sense and Nonsense

Physiatrists are acquainted with, and have labeled, many kinds of neuroses. I wonder if I have recently become afflicted with one that has not yet been added to their lists? I call it phonophobia – the morbid fear of music!

For 15 years I have endured my childrens’ mania for David Sevilles’ long-playing record of “The Chipmunks”. As each child progresses to more sophisticated musical tastes, I swear never to place the offensive recording on a turntable again! However the rodent harmonies of Alvin, Theodore, and Simon seem destined to haunt me for all the days of my life. Yesterday our four-year-old expressed a desire to hear her “favourite” record.

“Don’t you want me to play the Cookie Monster?” I pleaded. “See, there’s a picture of him on the cover – taking a bite out of that big letter C!”

“You played that one yesterday,” she replied. “Today I want to hear The Chipmunks”. She added the all-important word “please” – which no mother can resist – to absolutely clinch her side of the argument.

My teenage son is a rock and roll addict. He explained to me the myriad differences between soft, medium and hard rock music. One day I overheard a surprisingly melodic female voice exploding from his stereo speakers when he accidently unplugged his headphones.

“Who was that?” I asked. She was actually singing my kind of music. “That was Linda Ronstadt,” he answered before re-plugging himself into oblivion. “Lately she’s into country rock.” Country rock eh? Had they finally put the rocks where they belonged – back in the country.?

We attended a dance recently and I learned the meaning of the term “Disco Music”. The fellow who was playing the records preferred a much louder and wilder beat than I liked. Someone requested a waltz and he obligingly played one. The quieter harmony of strings in three quarter time was a relief after a steady diet of “Blood, Beard and Bones” and “The Squeegies”! The man liked his music loud and the beat fast. He donned a mask and hairpiece and periodically howled in an eerie fashion into a mike. He discoed before during and after each change of record. As a one man entertainment committee he enjoyed the obvious appreciation of at least 80% of the crowd! The beat went on, loudly and wildly.

I decided to request some music for our minority group. “Can you play some old-time dance tunes?” I yelled. The smile on the face of the man behind the music collapsed. He peered at me suspiciously. I had an inspiration. “How about Country Rock? Do you have any John Denver or Linda Ronstadt?” He eyed me pityingly. The beat went on loudly and wildly. “Don’t you have any kind of music for old people?” By this time I was beginning to feel like a senior citizen, although the man I was facing was probably in the same stages of declining youth as I was.

The smile was back on his face. “Do you like Dolly Parton?” he purred. “Yes” I answered happily. I had a tape of Dolly at home warbling her heart out along with Porter Wagoner. Too late I remembered that Dollys’ well-endowed figure was now decorating disco record albums. I heard a barely recognizable female voice above the staccato beat of the drums.

Dolly, how could you do this to me!!


Mar. 9,1978  Sense and Nonsense

I love to collect accidental humour, whether it be from radio. T.V. or everyday life. However it sometimes happens that the humour is only in the eye or the ear of the beholder. The other day I found myself chuckling merrily over a statement made by a newscaster on the radio. Seems our government planned on borrowing money from “a broad” to help stabilize our sagging economy.

I repeated the declaration to our resident teen-ager who spoke in a lofty teen-aged, manner. “Yes, that was amusing. Not very funny, but it was amusing.”

I skulked away to my kitchen. Just for that I would not repeat the hilariously distorted version of a popular T.V. commercial I had heard that day. “Betty Quacker’s Snocking Cake” had broken me right up! Teen-agers have no sense of humour .. he would probably be “amused” into complete boredom!

One day I idly noticed a cardboard box that was supposed to be utilized as a toy box for our pre-schooler’s toys. That it was empty was not surprising. The toys it was supposed to house were in their usual places … everywhere! What was surprising was the label on the box… “French Fried Toes”. I have never been an avid fan of French style cookery, and this caption did not whet my appetite for it.

On closer inspection, I could see an address poster had been pasted on the box. It was unobtrusively blocking out some of the letters in the word “Potatoes”. It was the box in which our daughter had shipped our Christmas present to us on the bus. She had sent us an electric deep-fryer!

Yesterday morning I was busily transforming the topsy-turvy, Monday morning look of the house into a semblance of the orderly home I have often desired. The television was blaring away. I vaguely realized a fashion show was being featured, and in fact, was almost over. I was simultaneously sweeping the kitchen floor and removing a mysterious pizza stain from the inside of a cupboard door, when a saccharin sweet voice from television-land reached my ears.

“And now our guest, Juliet, will do the “clothes off” section of the show”. I almost dropped everything to dash into the living room to see the “New Look” Juliet was about to introduce into the fashion industry.

I was detained by another Monday morning mystery.. how did the teddy bear get into the refrigerator? Oh well, accidental humour may not always be that funny….but it is amusing.

WEIRD KINGDOM (spoof on a TV show called “Wild Kingdom”)

Feb.2, 1978  Sense and Nonsense

Mutual of Andromeda presents “Weird Kingdom” with Merlin Ferkins! (An Inter-Galactic Television Production)

“To-day we are about to explore a little known region in the galaxy. The planet Earth is covered mostly by water, but few people realize that many strange animals abound amid the vegetation of the seemingly small land masses. Because of the dangerous levels of oxygen in all but the higher mountain regions, we must take precautions before we leave. Anti-oxygen shots are necessary for both Stanley and myself. It is not necessary for us to carry weapons. The wildlife, though fierce and repulsive looking in appearance, are harmless.

Stanley has a radar equipped lariat. We may wish to capture and examine some of the fascinating creatures we encounter. Here we are, circling the planet Earth. Our adventure into the Weird Kingdom is about to begin! We decide to land near one of the smaller “anthills” as we call them, which have been built by one of the busier creatures on this small but interesting planet. The species we are about to study are rarely encountered in the galaxy. They are bipeds, and manage quite successfully to move about on exceedingly spindly legs. They are poorly equipped to withstand the harsh climate as they are almost completely hairless! However Nature has supplied them with extremely dexterous hands which enable them to clothe themselves in adequate, although primitive, garments.

Maybe to-day we shall succeed in capturing one of these interesting creatures. They certainly seem to be the dominant animal in this region. Notice their elaborately built caves and their slow but effective means of transporting themselves from place to place in strange-looking wheeled vehicles. Surely one of the more complex animals in the Weird Kingdom!

Oh, look! Stanley has easily captured one of variety of animals which according to our handbook, is a member of the “dog” family. These animals have been domesticated by the dominant creature, called “humans”, in the area. They are fed and looked after by the humans for, as far as we know, no reasonable purpose. At one time scientists believed the humans were slaves of these dogs, but we know now that it is not true. The dogs, though mostly well cared for by the humans, do not seem to desire more than these creature comforts. I am sure we shall learn much from closely examining the dog Stanley has now tranquilized.

My, look at those teeth! They could easily have torn flesh from Stanley’s arm if he were not wearing protective clothing! A quick exposure to our mini Q-ray camera, and we shall learn everything we need to know about the animal. We will then let it go, unharmed. We try never to harm any creature in the Weird Kingdom! As we approach the entrance to the anthill, we are careful to dodge the frantic, aimlessly driven, wheeled vehicles of the humans. We, of course, have turned on our “invis-shields”. We know from experience many animals become highly agitated upon confronting unfamiliar species. Humans, I have been told, are capable of completely destroying themselves and severely damaging the flora and fauna on their beautiful planet. Despite their aggressive tendencies, they cannot harm us, but we are always careful venturing into the Weird Kingdom!

There!  We have sighted a female human! She is one of a group of food transporters. Humans keep their food in storage centres, and the female of the species carries home small quantities to her young in containers known as “shopping bags”. She sometimes carries clothing and other objects home to her family as well. It is amazing how quickly these humans can move on only two legs! Stanley decides to use the “lariat” to capture her. It is hard to distinguish her from the other females in the group. There she is!

Stanley quickly ropes her! Although she is less dangerous than the dog, she is emitting extremely high-pitched noises! She is soon quieted when we apply the tranquilizer. Now a quick exposure to the Q-ray camera and our mission is complete. The human recovers her shopping bag, and scurries home to her young. She will retain no knowledge whatever of her experience. We shall learn much from our encounter with one of the most fascinating creatures in the Weird Kingdom! Tune in next week when Mutual Of Andromeda presents another adventure in the Weird Kingdom!


February 16, 1978  Sense and Nonsense

Hospitals intimidate me. I have a superstitious fear of doctors, (especially surgeons) nurses carrying enemas or needles, and cold bedpans. A few years ago I was scheduled to undergo minor surgery. My old irrational fears (and a few new ones) came back to haunt me. I had never had an operation before and my vivid imagination, coupled with an inborn cowardice, caused me to become extremely worried.

The pre-operation procedure made me wonder if I was being prepared to enter an entirely different world. The weird hat, the hospital gown and the huge miss-mated stockings probably were the mode of apparel in this new world. As I bundled up my watch, eyeglasses, and other inorganic but essential parts of me, I felt as the ancients must have before embarking on a journey to the mythical land of their gods. I felt terribly vulnerable, without even a magic sword to protect me from demons and evil spirits.

The needle they gave me made me feel a little drunk. I no longer feared my journey, but now felt happily curious about it. The funny little people who wheeled me away were clothed appropriately enough, all in green. They reminded me of masked leprechauns. They whisked me down endless corridors and through countless sets of double doors. Gradually I realized my captors were not leprechauns but actually secret agents, furtively transporting me to the boss man, who presided in an office deep within the bowels of the building. As they wheeled me through the last set of double doors, I knew that I, Maxwell Smart, Agent 86, would soon learn of my next assignment!

I was placed on a cold table under a large glaring light. I found myself all alone in the otherwise darkened room. The light was piercing my very soul! I knew that any disloyalties I had would soon be filtered from me. I would confess all double dealings under that light! A large leprechaun, or as I now realized secret agent, appeared magically at my side. His eyes smiled at me above his green mask. I knew I had passed the test! They were sure of my loyalties…. They knew l had not been corrupted by the forces of evil!

A second agent now approached me. He placed a needle in my arm and asked me to repeat the secret code… 99. 98, 97. 96… His voice, a vaguely familiar voice, gradually faded away. Almost immediately, I found myself in my own bed, far from the cold table and the glaring light. My captors were nowhere in sight. A friendly nurse was enquiring of my comfort. Thank goodness she was wearing the traditional white hospital garment and not the green that identified “them”.

My last thought before drifting off to sleep was: “Would the nurse believe me if I told her what really went on in this hospital?”


Sept 8, 1977 Sense & Nonsense

This afternoon when my daughter phoned, I exulted at the sound of her voice. “Aha! You did catch my E.S.P. message this morning! Why didn’t you phone earlier?”

“Mother, are you feeling alright? Why was I supposed to phone earlier?” asked my obviously un-tuned in offspring. ”

“I was testing my psychic abilities. Didn’t you feel a tingle in your dialing finger at approximately 9:30 this morning? I sent out thought rays to all my friends and relatives. I mentally screamed at everyone to phone me. I even pictured them dialing my number.

“Do you not recall having a terrible urge to phone your mother this morning??”

“No, I’m sorry Mother. My dialing finger never tingled.”

Well, so much for that experiment. My other psychic experiment of the morning had failed miserably as well. I had endeavored to play a solitary game of “Concentration” utilizing our deck of 49 playing cards. Concentration is supposed to be a social game, in which the player with the best memory is destined to win. He is best able to recall where the cards are that he and the other players have previously lifted and then placed in a face-down position on the table.

When I was a child, our family played Concentration often. I usually lost. My brother, with a younger and therefore less cluttered brain, usually won. However, one time when I was about 12 years old I astounded him and my mother with my remarkable aptitude for the game. We had played for hours and I was completely bored with it.

When it was my turn, I laid out all the cards on the table and absentmindedly began picking out pairs. In this slightly vacant state of mind, I successfully mated every card I picked up. I shuffled the cards, laid them out, and again picked up pairs in front of my open-mouthed family. I somehow knew exactly where the mate to every card I picked up was located.

Halfway through this second game I “woke up” and began wondering. “How come I am suddenly so good at this game?” This ruined everything. I was again relying on my memory, and my psychic button clicked to “off”.

This morning’s experiment in Concentration was almost as stunning. Out of 49 cards, I should have accidently, at least, have picked up some pairs. I had picked them up at random, not looking at the first card as you do in regular Concentration. When I checked the sets of cards I had placed facedown, I discovered not even one was a pair.

Could it be that my “short deck'” had somehow scrambled the psychic waves?

People are accepting psychic phenomena as a matter of course. “Telepathy”, “clairvoyance”, “precognition” and “psycho-kinesis” are words that are being tossed about almost as nonchalantly as motherhood, taxes and the weather. Scientists are busily researching psychic phenomena. Many predict that controlling it will result in a “new frontier” in communications, medicine, and other areas of human endeavour.

“Oh good, my phone is ringing. Perhaps somebody has been resisting my psychic messages of the morning and has finally succumbed to the urgings of their dialing finger!”

“Hello… Oh my God, it’s an obscene phone call!!  Something made you WANT to dial this number…..


Sept 28, 1978 Sense and Nonsense

“Why don’t we pick cones for the Forestry?” I suggested to a friend. “We could earn money in the great outdoors and have fun doing it!” The summer had been a cold wet one, and the day we went cone-picking was typical. In the wee hours of a gray morning we climbed into a mud-splattered van, similar to the ones they used to transport soldiers to battle in World War Two.

“Be sure and buckle your seat belts,” the other girls advised us.

We soon discovered that seat belts were not just a precaution in case of accident; they were a necessity if one wished to stay in their seat. The road was full of pot holes, the van had no shocks and our driver was in a hurry to get there. The other girls had breakfasted wisely on coffee and Gravol pills. I found myself speaking in a pleading manner to my logger’s breakfast of bacon and eggs. The 20-mile journey into the bush seemed endless. By the time we reached our destination, my complexion was an interesting shade of green.

The logging road where we stopped was a slimy gumbo of mud. We slipped, slithered and sloshed down the road to the cone-picking grounds. The cone trees were located in a dense swampy jungle on the lower side of an open logged off area. The underbrush was sopping wet and the thorn plants appropriately named “devil’s club” grew everywhere.

It was raining again so we donned our “garbage bag” vests. In our green plastic tunics, huge work boots and bright orange hard hats we were appropriately dressed for Halloween night. We found a fallen tree loaded with cones almost immediately. This was going to be a “piece of cake” we decided. We almost filled our small tote sacks with lovely green cones!

“Be sure and dig in the moss to pick up the buried cones as well”, the chief forester told us. “There is a shortage of cones this year.” His words were an understatement we realised later. We tumbled over windfalls, through swamps, and up thickly wooded hillsides, carefully inspecting every fallen tree we saw. The cones we found were mostly overripe or diseased.

After lunch we decided to separate. However I soon began to worry about my city reared friend. Suppose she was lost? My voice bubbled in my ears as I shouted her name over and over in the pouring rain. Finally I noticed her garbage bag clad form weaving through the trees only a short distance away. I took a short cut through a patch of devil’s club to join her.

“Why didn’t you answer me?” I yelled in a peevish manner. She removed her hard hat and yelled “What?” “I said, “Why didn’t you answer me. I thought you were lost!!”

“I think we’re both lost,” she replied. “Lost our minds – why else would we be standing here in the pouring rain, in a patch of thorn-bushes, shouting at each other!”

In the late afternoon I discovered I had lost my hard hat. I had not even felt it leave my head! I could see an orange object about 200 yards back through a melange of felled trees that lay pickup-stick fashion over a canyon. We had spent hours navigating through that mess!

“The Forestry would not miss one small ill-fitting hard hat,” I thought. “Yes they would!” whispered the ever present voice of my conscience. By the time I had climbed back to the road it was almost 5:00 o’clock and cone-counting time. Some of the girls had done quite well. My friend and I had picked less than half a sack a piece!

We spied a logger picking his way carefully down the muddy road. He had shed his work clothes for the day and was dressed in a snow white sweater and slacks. He took one look at us, did a double-take, lost his footing and fell full length in a sea of mud! We were too tired to laugh. However a certain sadistic instinct in both of us agreed that the incident had somehow made our day’s miserable efforts at cone-picking seem worthwhile!


July 14, 1977  Sense and Nonsense

As much as I hate to admit it I am guilty of discrimination against a minority group. I have always prided myself on being a fair and tolerant person. However lately I have found myself uttering such disgusting phrases as “Black is ugly!” and “Why don’t they do away with at least half of them!”

Intolerance is usually based on fear and I’ll admit that is a big part of my problem. I also dislike their personal habits. They are often bold, bad-tempered and irresponsible. To top it off, the government treats them better than the majority of us, allowing them thousands of square miles to live in, free meals and in some cases free housing.

I don’t like bears! There I’ve said it! I should have my mouth washed with soap! I am not prejudiced against any particular group of bears. I dislike black, brown and grizzled equally. Koala bears are cute but they live in Australia and I understand they are not really bears at all.

When I was a child, bears were afraid of people except when someone came between a mother bear and her cubs. Mother love is forgivable. I walked to school and played in the bush constantly but very seldom saw a bear. When I did I ran. The bear also ran – in the opposite direction.

My first upsetting experience with a bear was when I was the cook at a sawmill bush camp. One dark night a bear smashed our bedroom window which was six feet off the ground. When the big furry fellow realised there were live humans and not just food in the building, it dropped back on all fours, leaving us with a lot of broken glass to clean up.

It wasn’t until the next morning when we stepped outside and observed our brand new car that the seeds of hatred implanted themselves in my heart. The bear had scratched and dented the car when it attempted to climb up on the roof of a nearby shed.

Over the years my hate mellowed into mere dislike. We heard stories of people being treed by bears and sometimes badly mauled or killed. Almost always, it was said to be the victim’s fault. Bears are basically nice, furry fellows everyone said.

There seems to be more bears around now than there used to be. They also seem to be less timid than they used to be.  A few years ago hate flared up again in my breast as it did back in my cook-house days. We had pitched our tent on the shores of a barely accessible lake. When it was time to break camp we decided to leave the tent there for a few days. There was no food or garbage in or around the tent to attract the bears. Besides we had seen no bear sign at all in that area. When we returned to pick up our almost new tent we discovered how wrong we had been. There was not enough undamaged canvas left for even a small tarp. ‘The poles were bent and twisted. The only undamaged item was the gas lamp, swinging at a rakish angle from the ridgepole -the mantle unbroken. Footprints in the sand revealed the tale of a mamma bear and her two cubs having a fun-filled afternoon.

The other night we were again camping in a tent. I awoke screaming and clawing at my husband’s back. Our canvas domicile was zigzagging back and forth, tugging at the strings attached to the ground pegs. A spruce tree had fallen just outside, slightly grazing our tent. When my husband explained what had happened, I breathed a sigh of relief. He did too, saying, “If that tree had swung this way, it would have landed on us.”

I didn’t bother to explain that my sigh of relief was at the knowledge that there really wasn’t a bear out there about to enter the tent.

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