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Turning Over New Leaf

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Moment in a Life









A Moment in a Life


Last night, we dined at a quality Italian restaurant in St. Augustine. As we sat near the calm waters of Anastasia Island on a cool Saturday evening, I could not help but recall how different life was in New Hampshire. It was not better or worse, just different.

 
The folks with whom we shared a meal are new to our town, so the conversation naturally gravitated to the past, as conversations tend to do when new friends interact. In any event, I related a story the others thought frightening, while I felt it was humorous. Please help me decide whether I am more disconnected than I envision.

It was the mid ‘90s when my wife and I reversed roles for the first time. The change was not planned, nor was it an attempt at political correctness. The circumstances were less than exciting, but nevertheless, my wife accepted a teaching position and I stayed home to write. We lived in a rural section of the state, after purchasing a cross-country ski resort in disrepair. The facility closed in the 1950s and was an awful mess. We decided to make an attempt to rebuild the main lodge for living quarters, and we accomplished our task very well. The place we bought inexpensively was turned into a magnificent family compound with trout streams, hiking and skiing trails, and plenty of scenery. The forest surrounding our home sheltered an abundance of moose, bear, deer, and other creatures not found in American cities outside Alaska.

On the first day of our new arrangement, my wife left for work and I vowed to get in a full day of non-stop writing without interruption. Of course, being a writer means writer’s block comes with the territory. Approximately 11:00 am, I decided to clear my mind and headed for the deck off the kitchen to take in some cool mountain air. As I slid open the door and stepped outside, it took but an alliterative second to realize I was in deep doo doo. A 350 pound mama stood up and glared right at me. Two cubs were climbing a tree trunk behind the deck, which was quite fortunate. Had they opted to watch mom from the deck itself devour a pumpkin we had placed on the rail, I would be writing this story from beyond.

Fortunately, as part of my wacky existence, I was familiar with the habits of bears, since I regularly took wilderness excursions for fun, though others might disagree. I knew black bears did not look for trouble, unless one invites it, or cubs appear threatened. I immediately stared at the deck floor, for any extended glance at her would be taken as a challenge – and she would win. I froze, avoiding any sudden movement, and in a few seconds uttered in a low, soft voice, something like, “Oh. I notice mama you are enjoying that pumpkin. It actually does taste much better than I do. I think I will go back into the house and leave you to your little ones. I hope you agree that would be a good idea.” I ever so slowly, still peering downward, backed into the doorway, closed the door, and once out of her sight ran upstairs to change my pants. Mama must have felt uninvited. She took her young ones and left.

When my wife returned home and hit me with the usual how-was-your-day-dear lines, I lied to her for the first and last time responding, “Nothing unusual.”

So is life in Florida different from New Hampshire? Not really, except that sharks rarely eat pumpkins.

10 comments:

  1. What a wonderful story.Thank you also for your comment.Have a good week.

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  2. I thought it was funny. It had the potential for scary if things had gone differently. As it was, you shared with them some knowledge on what to do if you accidentally encounter a bear and what NOT to do. I think any time you don't get MAULED by a bear when you meet up with one makes for a good story:-)

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  3. It just makes me think "If that had been me I'd've been in trouble"! But then, we don't get a lot of bears here to have got the experience.

    Your lodge sounds fantastic and Mr H. would appreciate the trout stream ;-) why did you move to Florida!?

    A school friend of mine now lives off the grid in the Yukon and your place sounds pretty similar (though maybe a little less remote?). We were planning to visit there in March 2011 but that will have to wait for another year now.

    JX

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  4. Thank you, Gingeyginge. You have a good week also.

    Robin: Exactly!

    Juniper: We moved because my wife started to develop arthritis in her hands due to the cold weather. I immediately went south to a warmer climate. I make pretty quick decisions. The Yukon is similar to our NH home, but much more vast. I have been there and it is beautiful!

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  5. JJ, that is a very good reason. I can imagine the cold does get into the bones.

    JX

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  6. Yes, indeed. Her arthritis cleared up considerably since we moved south.

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  7. Great telling of an "enriching" experience! I, too, have met a black bear on the prowl. I was walking in the woods in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan several years ago when it bounded up a small hill and stood looking at me! Like you, I knew a black bear wouldn't bother me unless I bothered her...so I quickly turned and walked LOUDLY away! Gulp!

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  8. While swimming, I once encountered a jelly fish. Not seeing this creature as it swam by, the tentacles gently left their mark across my left thigh. If I had seen this beautiful site, I, too, would have murmured "excuse me, but I think the water for humans is better over there," and swum quickly away.

    I love your story. The brief one I just wrote is about as rough as you might get in Florida. Oh, wait - how about that special moment when siting a Key Deer!?

    As for your writing all day, it is like my painting all day. There is painter's block....sigh.

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  9. A-M: Good to hear, I guess. Misery loves company?

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