Weekend wanderings::it was a beary good thanksgiving on Pollywog Creek...

Weekends {are for} Wanderings on Pollywog Creek
...looking back and {trying to} catch up

"There's a fire in the kitchen," Emily thought when she heard me screaming for Louis.

Drama on Thanksgiving Day comes as no surprise to my family, and considering the fact that I've started a fire in the oven while roasting a large turkey on at least two Thanksgivings, Emily's assumption was a valid one. Little did she know that the source of my panic was a full grown black bear meandering along the thickets by the creek.

My first thought when I saw the bear - not fifty feet from where I was setting the table on the porch - was that Louis was outside and I feared he would unknowingly wander into the bear's path. I also considered racing around the house closing the doors and windows. My only encounter with a bear not in a zoo was when we camped in the Smokey Mountains and a bear destroyed the topper on a truck parked next to our tent trying to get to the food inside. Was this Thanksgiving Day bear attracted to our yard by the aroma of roasting turkey, and would he tear through the screen porch or an open window to get to it?

So I started screaming for Louis. By the time I found him and both he and Emily responded to my hysteria, the bear had wandered to the far northeast corner of the property and then disappeared into the thickets. 

Did I get a picture? No. Some photographer I am. It wasn't my first thought. When I did think maybe I should get a camera, I picked up the Sony point and shoot, and between my shaking and the distance the bear had traveled away from the porch, the bear in that photo was only a dark blur.

If Louis and Emily had to rely on that blurry photo for proof, they probably wouldn't have believed me, but they saw the bear for themselves before he disappeared and knew I wasn't just being hysterical.

Trying to reach someone in authority on a holiday was nearly impossible. Eventually, a dispatcher from the sheriff's office reached a wildlife officer who said he would patrol the area throughout the day.

While we were on bear alert, over at Nick's house Kristin (near the end of her first trimester) was throwing up and Gavin slipped off a bar stool and hit his head on the edge of the counter, leaving a stitch-worthy gash on his scalp. To avoid the ER (an hour away), Nick brought him to me. I suggested that we try shaving the hair around the gash and applying a butterfly to close it, but Gavin's response was nothing short of hysterical. In the end, he stayed with us the rest of the morning, we kept the wound clean and dry, and he'll just have one more little boy "battle scar" to add to his growing collection.

By late-afternoon, seventeen of us had feasted on fried gator tail, roasted turkey, baked ham, dressing and gravy, green bean casserole, sweet potato souffle, squash and broccoli casseroles, mandarin orange salad, apple pie, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and pumpkin bread.  The kitchen had been cleaned, food put away, our lovely family guests had scattered for other gatherings, and the garbage can wheeled to the road to be picked up the next morning.

We'd more or less forgotten about the bear until the dog started barking, and Emily thought she should see what all the excitement was about, and sure enough - it was the bear. Guess he was just waiting for the leftovers.

He sauntered around the pond, tried to climb a tree when he was startled by the neighbor's barking dogs, and then galloped up to the fence along the road where he picked up the garbage can, emptied it in the road and then carried the bags into the woods across the street where he spent the next hour enjoying its tasty-to-him contents before dusk fell and the game officer arrived.

And what did the game officer do? Nothing. The bear is tagged and the officer thinks he is the same one who has been getting into garbage cans on the other side of the creek, but he can't do anything without a biologist and no biologist could be found on Thanksgiving Day. All he could do was scare the bear away from the garbage so Louis could pick it up and store the can in the garage overnight.

The bear climbed a tree and the game officer thought he would stay there for the night and we should hear from a biologist the next day. Two days later, we haven't seen the bear again, but we also haven't heard from a biologist. The bear - and the biologist - are still out there. Somewhere.

Needless to say, we look both ways when we walk outside, and it will be a while before I wander about Pollywog Creek with my camera without an armed escort.

So how was your Thanksgiving? I really would love to know.

{Photos} a day after Thanksgiving blue heron along the creek and my Pollywog Creek backyard, and the bear, of course.  My "i love saturday" photo/post will go up later.