Thursday, April 23, 2015

Encounter 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 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
When a huge, black animal lumbered up from the beach and out from 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, my heart pounding, I watched as its gigantic head swiveled over its shoulder. With stained fangs bared, it glared up at me with bloodshot eyes, A menacing growl rumbled from its throat.

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!


  1. OH...MY...GOODNESS, AnnaLee!! An encounter such as yours is always at the back of my mind these days. Now, while I don't want to live in fear, I also don't want to put myself in danger. I just want to be able to take my daily walks for exercise, be able to walk my dog, and be able to keep the chicken coop door open for access to fresh air on these delightful fall days. Unfortunately, I am on the lookout instead. I'm sure your mother was quite upset after the fact. I can only imagine the look on her face when those young men said, "Bear!!!" So, lovely to hear about your homeschooling experience. It is a wonderful experience mixed with many joys and challenges. May God continue to bless you and yours as well as continued success in your writing career!! I see you are on Facebook. Do you have a personal page, professional page or both. We should connect!

  2. I have both a personal Facebook page, AnnaLeeConti and an author page, Yes, let's connect.