An encounter with a baby (bear, that is)

Gardening is a wonderful experience in Western North Carolina. The mundane chore of weeding brings contentment to me. Being an active gardener, [I can be found] in the back or front yard this time of year.

On June 28, I was planting a Ginkgo biloba tree [in] the backyard. This is not an easy task because there are so many underground roots to remove to make the area suitable for planting. I was quite engrossed in my project. For some reason, I can’t explain why, I looked up. Fifteen feet away, with only its head overlooking the stump of a tree, I saw the face of a black bear. Being a doubting Thomas, I took another look in case my eyes were deceiving me. At this point, the epinephrine in my body … stimulated … my heart rate. I knew I had to hightail it out of there.

I couldn’t get to the safety of my house, because doing so would bring me toward the bear. I took a route in the opposite direction of the neighbor’s house. I’ve heard [it] said [that you] should not to turn your back on an oncoming bear. I can tell you, I did not walk backwards because, if I attempted that sort of feat, I could have turned up in the emergency room with a broken bone.  …  The terrain was quite uneven and comprised of brush and rocks.

Making my way to the neighbor’s house, I rang the bell. Ring … ring … no answer. Again … no answer. [Eventually] the doorbell was answered. Explaining my dilemma [with] trembling hands, I was invited into the house to wait for someone to arrive in a car and deliver me to my house. I declined this offer and, after a while, I decided to try and make it [home] on my own.

During my brave uphill march, I shouted at the top of my lungs to ward this creature away. Eureka! I made it and immediately took to the window. [Then] I spotted a bear cub, probably no older than six months. I watched the cub until he went out of sight and at no time did I see any sign of his momma. Thank goodness because, [otherwise], I doubt the Ginkgo biloba tree would have found a home in my backyard.

— Patty Aversano

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