Memorial Day 2022, one I’ll remember for a while, started with a shock when I woke up at 5 a.m., put on my glasses, and felt something brush my eyelashes. I turned on my phone and all I saw was a stink bug so close to my eye that it looked like King Kong on a movie screen. I screamed and threw my glasses across the room.
“Remember when you almost drank a stink bug, Grammy?” my grandson, Luca, likes to ask. He loves my stink bug stories. “I’ll never forget,” I always reply. Just thinking about it gives me a shiver. I woke up thirsty one night and reached for my water glass on the nightstand. As I brought it to my lips, something bumped my lip. I turned on the light and saw a stink bug dog paddling like it was in pool.
“Ew, gross!” Luca always says, followed by, “Remember when you almost ate one?” This one’s even more gross than the other story. I was making bean soup, and once it cooled, I placed a few cups in the blender to thicken it. When I removed the lid, the smell of a mutilated stink bug nearly gagged me. I shudder to think what would have happened if I hadn’t thickened the soup and a whole stink bug showed up in my bowl after I’d already eaten some of the soup. Ew gross, indeed!
Anyway, now Luca has another stink bug story to remind me about.
The next shock of the day involved a much larger species.
The first time we were made aware of a bear in our yard this year was the first weekend in April; a good four weeks ahead of last year. Jim and I were at an out-of-town wedding when a neighbor texted and said it looked like a bear got at our bird feeders. I thought we’d have a few more weeks before we had to take them down, but the bear did it for us. And what a job he did! There was wood and plastic and netting scattered everywhere, poles bent to the ground, and to add insult to injury, he left behind a special, very large, “gift”.
Other than hearing a bear on our back porch a few weeks ago, we’d been bear-free…until yesterday afternoon.
It was a lovely day; I’d opened the windows and the side storm door, which creates a nice cross breeze since the screen door facing the outside is fully screened. I was reading a book in my bedroom. Zuzu was asleep on the bed. Jim was in town visiting his parents. I was just about to drift off to sleep when I heard what sounded like someone knocking on the screen door. Why would someone come to the deck and not the front? I wondered, annoyed. I stood up to see who it was. I don’t have a bra on, I’m not in the mood for company…
Zu leaped off the bed and started barking. Not her “There’s a person here to see me!” bark, but her “I’m 30 pounds of fightin’ fury!” bark, the one she uses on cats, turkeys, and…
Bears! From the hallway, I saw him leaning into the screen door, looking at me like I’d invited him over for dinner. I screamed and he ran down the steps. Zu got to the door before me and nudged it, but I yelled for her to stay and, thankfully, she did. I reached the doorway just as the bear stood up on its hind legs. I slammed the storm door shut and locked it, just in case. (Thank god he was a he and not a she with a cub. Just last week I read about this bear encounter in Wisconsin.)
He looked like he still thought he might get something to eat.
That photo doesn’t compare in quality to the one I took (and wrote about) last year of a bear (maybe the same boy?) at the feeders in late June, but in retrospect, what kind of idiot takes a photo like this? Stay in the house, Lynn!
Yesterday’s bear sniffed around the tree where the feeders usually are, like Yukon Cornelius looking for gold nuggets.
Then he knocked over a few things on the back porch before meandering over to the garage, which is about 100 yards from the house. Jim had left one of the large doors open, and sure enough, the bear went in. I was sure he’d be a while, making a huge mess of the garbage (there’s a small kitchen in the corner), but nothing must have interested him because he walked out a few seconds later. I watched him wander aimlessly, climb an electric pole, fall on his butt, and finally wander off into the woods.
I can’t do anything to prevent future stink bug encounters, but instead of putting the bird feeders back up in July when the food bears eat deep in the woods is more plentiful, I won’t this year. I love birds and all, but I’ve had enough bear drama for one season.