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black-bear.jpgThis weekend, Rob and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary with a quasi-spontaneous trip to Vermont to catch the end of leaf-peeping season.  It was an utterly beautiful weekend, the kind where you order homemade yellow cake with chocolate frosting after lunch at the town diner just because it looks delicious…and it is!

We had one goal while we were there–we wanted to climb something.  Even if it was the smallest “mountain” ever to carry the name, we were in the mood to set out to accomplish something–and then accomplish it.  We found that nearby Jamaica State Park had an overlook trail that would take us just where we wanted to go.

The sun was positively dripping through the trees.  Though it was just past peak leaf season, the whole forest still seemed lit up.  Puffing, red-cheeked, and a little boot-muddied, we did it.  The top.  Gorgeous view, well-earned granola-and-water break.  The elation of being in such a beautiful place combined with the gratitude for our ability to get there.  It was perfect.

Refreshed, we set off down the next leg of the trail, which would take us down the other side of the mountain.  A few steps in, though, we froze in our tracks when we heard this:

Click for Audio: Black Bear Growl

We never saw the black bear that surely made this noise, but we know s/he was there from the large jolt-y movement we saw in the brush just around the bend, the flock of birds that scattered from the scene, and the growl.  That deep, resonant grrrrrrowl that shot off our “fight or flight” mechanisms and sent us scampering (as quietly as possible) back the way we came.

I believe that we did the right thing by not tempting fate (read: inviting a mauling) and leaving the bear alone.  But now that we’re safe and sound, I’m intrigued and inwardly warmed by the encounter.  I read this on a website about animal symbology and “power animals:”

Bear medicine teaches us introspection, aiding us to digest our experiences
and to discover that we have within ourselves the answers to all our
questions. We all have bags of wisdom, if only we slow down and listen to
what our intuition, our inner knowing voice is telling us.

So today I am trying to digest the experience, feeling the remnants of that deep growly sound still in my bones, thinking with elated gratitude about the wild things that still wander just around the bend.

(audio via: http://www.partnersinrhyme.com/)
(image via: http://www.allamericanpatriots.com)

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