A few weeks ago I wrote about a bear that visited the yard. He wandered off, and we didn’t get to speak.

Yesterday when I drove into the street to go to work, I was stopped by a large black bear sitting in the middle of the road, posed like a piece of Native American sculpture. I stopped about six feet from him and he slowly got to his feet and wandered up to check out the Land Rover. I moved forward to meet him nose to nose, and he backed up and bounded into the woods across the street.

Today, I got up at dawn and fired up the little John Deere yard tractor to remove the leaves that are falling. As I rounded the corner of the house, I encountered ANOTHER large bear. The day before, I had the advantage as the Land Rover was considerably larger than the bear. Today, the bear and the tractor appeared evenly matched.

I decided to speak with the bear and I went inside to get the shotgun. I believe in being non-violent, but there is no substitute for slugs when sweet nothings whispered in the bear’s ear don’t work. Especially if the bear is hungry or hung over or just plain mean.

Emerging from the house, I found the bear standing just where I’d left him. He looked at me with a steady gaze as I approached.

Bear, I said, this is not the place for you.

My birds are tame, and my dog is not breakfast.

Just over that hill, I said – pointing toward the west – there is a development called Amherst Woods, full of houses with tasty things to eat. Go do your raiding there. They are not armed or dangerous.

The bear considered my advice for a moment, and headed west. I finished removing the leaves and went to work.

When I was younger, I worked our farm tractor in the Georgia swamps with a shotgun in a scabbard on the hood. We had mostly snakes and angry gators down there, when you'd clear swampland. I hadn’t thought a shotgun was a necessary tractor accoutrement in New England, but with Global Warming, who knows?

When I returned home after work, there was no sign of the bear. I removed the leaves again, and reminded my subjects to be sure the doors to the house remained shut.

Out east, near Boston, there’s a restaurant called Legal Seafoods. It’s one of my favorite places. They have a dessert made from ice cream balls with a crunchy chocolate shell. I like them a lot.

Coincidentally, I hear the big Polar Bears up north say the opposite thing about igloos . . . a cold crunchy outside, with a warm chewy center.


kristen spina said…
Hi John, I just finished your book this afternoon--loved it and love the bear story. When you decided to speak to the bear and went inside for your shotgun, did you turn your back on him? Yikes! I would have been scared to death.
John Robison said…
A wise person does not turn his back on a large bear. I backed the tractor up and went inside.

At that, some folks would just shoot the bear but I felt I'd try and reason with him, and it worked.

I had a bear that came calling 20 years back, and he would advance on me unless I pointed the gun at him, and then he'd back down. That went on for several visits one fall. Obviously, that bear knew about guns. This one did too.
Polly Kahl said…
Jezuz John, I am now officially cured of my bear envy. It's back to the white tailed deer for me.
Anonymous said…
that is a riot.
annfmcl said…
Hey! Please don't send those bears over to my neighborhood (Amherst Woods)! You're right: we don't have any shotguns over here (at least I don't).
Essential Amy said…
Hmmm.You should become a 'bear whisperer'.
The Anti-Wife said…
You are amazing. What a wonderful story and reasonable way to handle bears.
Drama Mama said…
John, this is not about bears.

I donated one of your books to our school's library; I will teach your book in the second semester. I figured it would be a good idea to have the non-Drama Mama students read your book, so I struck a deal with the librarian, and she displayed it prominently at check out.

One girl read it in an afternoon, and told me that you were the "coolest" and that she thinks that she is touched by Aspergers. I'd have to agree.

Another boy is basing his character on being Aspergian (likes machines, doesn't like to look people in the eye, repels touch most of the time) in our school play - he is most respectful and does our people justice. He has compared his gayness to Asperger's, and was comforted by your book.

The kids in my cast all have read your book (at my insistence) and have embraced the concept of differences, perception, and mutual respect.

All this in one month. Your book.
Something else.
Holly Kennedy said…
John, I hope this note finds you well, I know it finds you busy. I hope all of your readings are continuing to go well :-)

You know me, if you're posting about bears, I absolutely must comment! I like your bear stories. Too bad I don't have one of those guns up here in Canada to help me prod 'em out of my yard.

Oh, and our Canadian polar bears? They truly do have a bad reputation for being tougher to persuade than the black/brown version you've just described.
SelinaRussell said…
Your joke about the igloo reminds me of the Larson cartoon where 2 sharks are looking at 2 scuba divers and one shark says to his friend "Don't eat the crunchy bit on the'll make you fart."
And thanks for the bit of bear lore. One of my friends tells the story of an Alaskan who adopted a Grizzly cub. After a couple of years the bear takes to having prolonged absences. Eventually the guy gets worried and goes looking for "his bear", he finds it at his fishing hole. Walks up gives it a whack with his walking stick and makes it walk back to his cabin, when the bear slows he gives it a couple of more whacks. They get to the crest of the hill overlooking the guys cabin...there's his bear sitting on the porch...he'd been up close & personal with a wild Grizzly. Apparently he was also really quick on his feet.
John Robison said…
Holly, where would I be without Canadians, people from the place where the bears are bigger and hungrier, and it really gets cold.
Unknown said…
Now, you just need the lions and tigers.

Although there are bears in my general area, they are secluded to the National Park and the Zoo. Wildlife in my neighborhood is reduced to furry rabbits, raccoons, squirrels and the rare Opposum that decides to die in your back yard probably pretending to be dead and just too it one step too far.

I'm reading the book right now and have already seen 2 or 3 striking similarities in thought processes and interests
Aprilynne Pike said…
Warm Chewy center . . . Bwahahahaha!

I've had my laugh for the day!

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