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.