Wednesday, June 15, 2011


by Andy

Yesterday we were working out in the big field, hoeing the pumpkins, when the call went up:


Okay, I did not take this photo (thank you, Google image). I was much farther away than this.

I looked up and sure enough about halfway to the Old Homestead area there was a big black bear walking along in the hay field. It was hard to tell at first if it was walking toward us or away from us, but just to be on the safe side we grabbed Pippa's leash and directed her attention away from the bear. Then we watched as it walked through the deep alfalfa hay, half disappearing in the lush greenery. When they say black bear, they really mean it, this bear was shiny jet black.

After watching it for a while, we saw a wild turkey fly away from the hay field right where the bear was. Was the bear hunting turkeys? Or maybe it had smelled out a nest or a clutch of turkey chicks. Or maybe just coincidence. After that the bear ambled quickly up and over the great divide and into the tree plantation area and out of sight.

It was the first bear that I had seen on the Land School property, although others have seen bears and we have definitely seen bear damage on the beehives and bird feeders. It is a thrill, but also it felt like a very safe bear encounter. The bear was over a 1/4 mile away and we were close to the Homestead and our dog was a the leash.

The other day when Donna was mowing the trails, she noticed a "not nice" musky smell and at first wondered if there was some stinky plant that had been clipped by the mower. After reflection, she speculated that there was probably a bear around, because they are known to have a stink not so unlike a skunk. And the last few hikes that Jen and I have been on have had that speculation wafting in the air. We have tried to smell for the bear, but nothing yet. Monday evening's hike was especially  magical. In addition to the possibility of a bear, we were greeted by a profusion of blackberry blossoms all along the trail. In the twilight, the blossoms stood out dramatically as the white in a black-and-white world. Then the fireflies starting going. There was also an unmistakeable floral scent, which we later identified as Virginia Waterleaf flowers. The timing of our hike made all the difference.

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