I’m sitting in the pub with a few mates, shooting the shit, talking about the epic season we hope to enjoy, when one of them says in a calm matter of fact tone, “Hey Mikey, don’t you live in the Annex?”
“Yeah mate, moved in a few days ago,” I reply.
“You hear about the Grizzly roaming around your hood?” he says.
“WHAT,” I splutter, spitting out my beer for dramatic effect. “Tell me you’re fucking kidding me?”
“Nah mate, it charged a house a few days ago,” my mate says with a big smile on his boat-race, as he tosses me a copy of The Free Press.
I flick to Bear Corner (as the name suggests this section of the local paper deals with bear sightings) yep there it is…
“A grizzly bear sow charged the door of a residential house on 12th Avenue after getting into recycling. The sow had a cub with her.” Bear Corner The Free Press November 4
“Enjoy your walk home Mikey,” he says as the room explodes into laughter.
Before I came to Canada, I had this reoccurring dream (nightmare) that I would be attacked by a bear. My irrational fear of bears is well known, I tell everyone I meet my worst nightmare is to meet a bear on my walk home.
I’ve been in Fernie for three weeks and moved into a lovely house for the season. I’m on 9th Avenue, just a few blocks down from where mama grizzly and her young yogi were spotted.
This does nothing to help my fear of bears. Where does my irrational fear of bears come from? I have no idea; I guess it’s the fear of the unknown. I have never seen a bear in the wild, I want to but only from a safe distance – preferably one with an easy escape route.
Every time I step out my front door I now half expect mama grizzly to be strolling by with her cub in tow.
The paranoia gets worse when I’m taking one of my regular 3am strolls home from the pub, the alcohol I’ve consumed over the previous eight hours induces a heightened state of awareness in me, I perfect the art of zig-zagging. I tell myself this is to confuse the bear, but to be honest I only end up confusing myself.
I jump at every small sound; I walk in the middle of the street, eyes darting all around me. Is the beast hunkering in the alley? I can see my house, I fumble in my pockets for my keys, I want them in my hand ready to open the door to my sanctuary.
Of course, I’m being melodramatic and irrational; winter can’t get here soon enough so the bears can go to sleep. Wait what’s that? Grizzly bears don’t do regular hibernations; they can wake up and forage for food? Oh, it’s going to be a long winter.