Have you ever taken a stroll in a pine forest? There is no quiet like the quiet in a forest. A carpet of fallen pine needles to deaden your footfall, the astringent scent of pine in the air, filtered sunlight breaking through the trees, dust motes drifting in the shafts of light- you are immersed in peace. All the while, unseen creatures note your passage. Well, mostly unseen.
My last visit to a forest was a trip to southern Colorado near the town of Cuchara. We camped in a lovely national forest park called Bear Lake, high in the mountains. We had visited there twice before and had never been disappointed by the beauty of our surroundings. Never once had we seen a bear, despite the name of the place. But this trip proved to be different. We were fishing at the lake, as were many of the campers that day. Someone across the small lake yelled out, "BEAR!!". Silly me, I thought they had shouted, "DEER", and I looked around to see if I could spot it. Twenty feet away from me, I see it. Not a deer, but a brown bear. Yikes! So, ever so casually, we gather our belongings and start beating a retreat to our vehicle. Well, we intended to casually walk, but the kid opted for all-out panic and ran like the wind. After that, it was every man for himself. That bear chased off every person at the lake. I was nervous but quite exhilarated, in truth.
Later that day, at twilight, I was in the RV, alone, all of the windows open, washing dishes. The rest of the family had gone to get water. Again I hear someone shout,"Bear in the camp!". This time I look out the window and, lo, there is the large lovely creature, right there, sniffing my grill outside my camper. I was captivated. I softly said,"Wow", loud enough, unfortunately, to turn the bear's attention in my direction. He strolled right over and stuck his head in my window for a whiff of me. I did not breathe. He was one foot away from me, with only a flimsy screen between us. I started thinking of the scene from the movie, Jurassic Park, where the velociraptors open a door with their claws and wonder if this bear is that intelligent. Thankfully, right then, some of my fellow campers ran over to my site to scare the bear off. Many tent campers packed up and skedaddled. For the rest of the trip, I never felt comfortable to hike in the forest again, though there were no more bear sightings by our group. I am a city girl, after all. But, what an experience! I am still a bit skittish about encountering bears, but I love to visit their world. And I definitely respect that the forest belongs to the usually unseen critters inhabiting it.
(Bead featured in photo available for purchase in my Artfire store.)
"Camping: nature's way of promoting the motel industry."- Dave Barry
"If you tell a joke in the forest but nobody laughs, was it a joke?"- Stephen Wright
"Some men go through a forest and see no firewood."- English proverb