Or, maybe it was because when I was four years old, my mother told me to play with a bear! Don't get me wrong. She was a good, loving mother. But strange things could happen in Alaska, especially in 1950.
We lived about a quarter of a mile outside the city limits of Juneau, Alaska's capital city. That morning I was standing at the railing on our open porch that ran along the front of the house to the entry door at the second floor. The house faced a steep bank in front. The back of the house rose three stories straight up from the beach. A long flight of wooden stairs at one end connected with the porch from the highway above and continued down the steep bank along the side of the house to the beach below.
|Black bear courtesy ursainternational.com|
Petrified, unable to move, I followed it with my eyes as it turned and climbed the hill to the road where it finally disappeared into the woods beyond. Only then could I run screaming into the kitchen. "Mommy! Mommy! There's a big, black dog out there without any tail, and it growled at me!"
She was doing dishes. Glancing at me over her shoulder, she said, "Oh, go on out and play with it. It won't hurt you."
Just then, two teenagers from the nearest house burst in carrying rifles. Breathless, they asked, "Did you see the bear in your yard?"
"Oh, no! I just told AnnaLee to go out and play with it!"
That was one time my mother was happy I disobeyed!