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.