Friday morning, around 8:30. August 12, 2016.
A bear! A bear! We saw a bear! As I was driving Oliver up to the summer camp in the country where he’s working a short stint this week in addition to his regular job at his college library, a big black bear loped out of the bushes and into the road. He took a quick look around, decided that was not at all where he wanted to be, and lumbered back into the bushes from which he came. The forty-minute drive between here and there is a reminder that this is still a very rural area, a farm region really. The road takes you through small town after small town interspersed with cornfields and orchards and long stretches of what was up until not all that long ago farmland. Now it’s gone back to wild fields of high grass and scrub and woods and even forest. The woods are undoubtedly home to many bears. Bear sightings a routine. But not for me. In fact, this was the first time I’d ever seen a bear in the wild. Same for Oliver. It was a marvelous moment and comical sight and it took us out of ourselves. Oliver and I had been talking seriously about family concerns. I wouldn’t say that we felt, as Elizabeth Bishop says of the bus passengers’ reaction to the moose in the road that blocks their way in her wonderful and wonder-filled poem, a “sweet sensation of joy.” But it gave us both a laugh and we continued on our way in a much lighter mood, talking cheerfully about nothing that mattered.