Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Encounters with Bears

In my first novel in my Alaskan Waters series, Till the Storm Passes By, the protagonist, Evie, encounters bears. Both black and brown bears are plentiful in Alaska. My worst nightmares growing up there involved fleeing from bears, probably because a boy my age was mauled by a bear and blinded for life.

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 can happen in Alaska, especially in 1950.

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 straight up from the beach. A long flight of wooden stairs at one end connected the porch from the highway above and down the steep bank along the side of the house to the beach below.

When a huge, black animal lumbered up from the beach under the porch, I was petrified. I'd always been afraid of big dogs, but this was the biggest "dog" I'd ever seen. Wide-eyed, rooted in place, I watched as its gigantic head swiveled over its shoulder. With stained fangs bared, it glared at me with bloodshot eyes, A low growl rumbled from its throat.

Unable to move, I followed it with my eyes as it climbed the hill to the road and 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!"

"Oh, go on out and play with it," she said. "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!"

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