Bear spotting!

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I didn’t get a photo, but there was a bear in my driveway yesterday!

I was coming out onto the porch with an armful of recycling, got halfway down the stairs, looked over and saw a fully grown black bear loping downhill alongside the chicken run.

I must have looked rather comical during the five seconds or so it took me to fully register the sight. Meanwhile the bear continued its deliberate, heavy stride to the end of the driveway, across the road and into my neighbor’s yard. At this point I became un-paralyzed and followed at a safe distance to watch it enjoy a few apples from the neighbor’s tree, then amble into the woods.

There’s something so shocking about seeing an animal in your own little domestic space that you normally think of as being somewhere else, "out there" in the mountains. This is our third bear spotting in four years, but the first one in broad daylight. (One occurred at night during a lightning storm–dramatic!)

One might say this is part of living in the country, but of course bears turn up right in Charlottesville too. We once published an essay in Bites & Sights by a writer who’d hit a bear on the 250 Bypass.

Bears are fascinating, but they’re actually not special. They’re just an especially noticeable example of the fact that we share our home with many, many other creatures–whether chickadees in a suburban backyard, squirrels in the city, or fox crossing country roads. We’re all altering each other’s environments. And I might hold the deed to this little patch of land, but if a bear prefers to call it hers on a certain summer morning, who am I to argue?

What are your bear stories, readers? Anyone had to cede home turf to an ursine visitor?

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