A Funny Harvest Story

Mama bear and cubs - Guenette photo

I’ve written before about bears roaming freely along the paths around our cabin. We generally see the first of our visitors sometime in April and then, depending on the year (and I imagine this has to do with a complex number of factors) we may see them wandering around right through early October. Usually visitations increase in late August and September when the salal berries are at their best. The pictures (above and just below) were our 2011 visitors. These little guys were hilarious. They got up in that tree a few times.

Cubs - Bruce Witzel photo

This year we were absolutely bear free. Not one sighting, not one speck of bear evidence to be found. So, wouldn’t you know it . . . the day before my daughter and granddaughters were to arrive, in the third week of August, I found a small pile of bear scat on one of the trails right behind the cabin. That raised a red flag and I filed the information away, telling myself to pay attention when the kids arrived.

About three days into our visit, my daughter and I, with the granddaughters, Emma and Brit running ahead, strolled into the back garden where Bruce was sitting at a table tinkering with watering timers. (That subject could be the basis of several blogs all entitled our ongoing trials and tribulations with automated watering.) The kids took off for the little slide set up on the edge of the garden. We recently found this discarded piece of back yard fun at the recycling depot. Emma had just come down and Brit was at the top, when I heard an odd sound – something like a loud flapping – almost as if a huge bird had flown right over my head.

I turned to my daughter and said, “Did you hear that?”

She looked up and jumped out of her chair telling me, “There’s a bear cub climbing up the alder tree.”

Well, the alder tree is almost directly behind the slide. She grabbed Emma, I grabbed Brit right off the steps of the slide and we all made our way into the house as fast as possible. A bear cub means a mother bear somewhere close by and no one with any sense wants to end up accidently stuck between the two.

Baby Bear - Bruce Witzel Photo

The next half an hour was spent watching the cub in the branches of the alder tree right outside the living room windows. The mom finally appeared and coaxed it out. The next day, Emma and I were on the kitchen deck getting ready to go down to swim when I heard the distinctively loud rustling of salal bushes – sure enough – mama bear and baby bear right out front, leisurely grazing along and blocking the stairs to the beach. No swim for us. That evening we were sitting at the kitchen table getting ready to play cards and Emma heard a noise. She glanced out the window and jumped back a foot, “Grandma . . . the bear.” Sure enough, mama bear is on the grass directly below the window.

Mama Bear - Bruce Witzel photo

Things peaked the next day when baby bear climbed one of our smaller apple trees and mama headed for the big one. Bruce said, “Enough is enough.” He grabbed a few rocks and from the safety of the deck near the back door began pitching rocks toward mama bear. She wasn’t keen on that and quickly trotted away with baby in tow.

Bruce spent the next half-an-hour picking all the apples – not a huge harvest – maybe fifteen pounds – but we are fiercely committed to anything we grow ourselves. No sooner was he in the house, apples in hand, than the kids started jumping up and down and pointing. Both bears were back again and mama was making for the emptied tree. A few more rocks drove them away and we haven’t seen them since.

Brit - Bruce Witzel photo


Three-year-old Brit is convinced that the baby bear came around when she was here because he wanted to play on the slide with her. None of us can believe that the only time we saw bears this whole summer was when the kids were here.


Bruce and I got busy yesterday and peeled all those apples so I could can a few jars of applesauce. Nothing says domestic diva like the popping sound of sealed lids.

Applesauce - Guenette photo

Do you have a funny harvest story? I’d love to hear it.

27 comments on “A Funny Harvest Story

  1. jane tims says:

    Hi. We have bear stories for almost every year. My neighbour heard knocking at the kitchen door and when he answered, he found a bear with its nose against the screen. Love your apple sauce! Jane

    • I got a good laugh out of your comment, Jane. If I ever see a bear knocking on the screen door it might be time to think about moving to the city. For some reason, I consider all wood decking around the place to be sacrosanct when it comes to wildlife. Although, once a rogue Billy goat did charge the old sliding glass door but how a Billy goat ended up running around here is a story for another day.

  2. I love bears, so this goes without saying — but what the heck, I’m here. I might as well say it. I love your post.

  3. Rosie Amber says:

    Wow, your bear pictures are amazing, don’t get them over here in the UK.

    • To be honest, bears roaming around Northern Vancouver Island are so utterly common, most people don’t think twice about them. The bears we get out here are not garbage bears because there is no garbage to be found so far from town – just your run-of-the-mill black bear looking to pack on some weight before winter. They generally want to avoid human contact as much as we would like to avoid them. But cubs always up the ante and we’re pretty careful. Does make for some amazing photos now and then.

  4. reocochran says:

    This was so special and I agree, magical that they came around while the kids were there! I love Brit’s thoughts that the baby bear wanted to play on the slide.. I can smell the applesauce cooking and wish I were there! I just put a post in my drafts about hard apple cider breweries, mentioning I love apple cider. Will be posting it on a busy day after work this week!

    • We do enjoy introducing the grandkids to a somewhat different lifestyle than they experience every day with our composting toilet and alternative energy system, food picked fresh from the garden and squirrels skittering around the deck and chattering from the branches of the trees. Bears crunching their way through the salal bushes right behind us – a bit close for comfort but they sure did a kick out of the cub in the tree right outside the window.

  5. Yolanda M. says:

    I have had my share of run-ins with black bears. Once (two years ago early July) I was so deep in thought on one of my daily walks I came face to face with a young male black bear. Took me a while to register I was facing a bear 🙂 luckily he was too busy rummaging for garbage to give me much notice. Great story Francis 🙂 Love your pics!

    • I’m happy to say that I haven’t had any face-to-face encounters for all the number of times we see bears around here, I’m usually on a deck looking down at them or have heard the tell-tale signs and have made my way inside. From what I’ve experienced, it seems bears in the wild are not just hanging out like garbage bears. They are constantly on the move – here now, gone in a bit. I’m glad your close encounter worked out so well.

  6. diannegray says:

    We don’t get bears here, but your pictures are fantastic, Francis. I think I’d be little scared of mama bear. It’s great you got the apples before she ate them all! 😀

    • A bit of fear (in terms of caution) is a wise thing when it comes to bears. We use to teach this little bit in the schools up here all the time – How to be bear aware. That’s the key, right? Where ever we are – be aware of your surroundings. As I’ve mentioned in a couple of comments, we have a lot of decks and they provide great vantage points for viewing and photography.

  7. jenanita01 says:

    Reblogged this on Anita & Jaye Dawes and commented:
    Wow…I’m all for living with nature, but this was a bit full on. Nervewracking or what?
    Lovely pictures, absolutely worth all of it, in my opinion

    • Thanks for the re-blog on Anita & Jay. I’m much more cautious when the kids around, for sure. And it certainly can be nerve-wracking sometimes. Then we get home from a visit to the city and we think – whew – now that is the definition of nerve-wracking. As you say – all worth it.

  8. Gallivanta says:

    That’s one of the best harvest stories I have heard! Fortunately, no bears here.

  9. Gwen Stephens says:

    Oh Fran, what a great story, and what a relief that nobody was harmed. Blogging has been my window to the world: so many great folks I’ve connected with, and some of the most interesting are those whose lifestyles are so completely different from mine. “Nature” in my corner of the world is limited to a postage stamp-sized lawn, pigeons, and the occasional backyard chipmunk — and I’m fine with that! Probably the only thing I’ve harvested are dandelions 🙂

    • We humans are such creatures of habit, aren’t we? Comfortable with the familiar – I take the bears with a grain of salt. Gardening we get on with in fits and starts. But plunk us down in your corner of the world and we’d probably hyper-ventilate. Though we love, love to visit great cities we are very much out of our element. I tend to gawk around like the proverbial city mouse. You are so right about blogging, Gwen. It is a great way to gain a window into different lifestyles.

  10. A great story, Fran! Wonderful that you can witness the spectacular world of nature right there in your own domain–even though it’s inconvenient with your other plans at times! Living out here near Chicago, I love all things bears–especially the Bears of the football world! 🙂

    • Now those Chicago Bears – a whole different type of animal 🙂 I tried to hastag this post on Twitter as #bears and you can imagine what came up. Not my wild black bears. We do live in a wonderful little corner of the world and if nature interferes now and then with our pursuits it is a small price to pay.

  11. That was a funny story, and some great pictures as well. I enjoyed both. I wish I could enjoy some of the applesauce.

  12. Reblogged this on through the luminary lens and commented:
    Wow – it’s been 5 weeks since I created a post. I assure you I’m alive and well, although busy with family, home and carpentry obligations. My apologies for not being so attentive to the blog-o-sphere over the summer. I do enjoy connecting with you all, such a diverse and interesting cross section of humanity. In this re-blog, I give you a glimpse of another reliable alternative energy source, the best under the sun – my wife and partner Francis. Here she has a wonderfully funny harvest story, bears and children included. Oh – if you get a chance please check out her two e-novels of “The Crater Lake Series” (on the right side bar). It’s on location at the lake we live on (sort of). I guarantee you won’t be disappointed! Peace and good cheer to all of you . . . Bruce.

  13. vadana33 says:

    A great story! I like bears but they make me have fear..They are beautiful but dangerous!I noted that,this place is wonderful!

  14. dex says:

    I love that your granddaughter thought the baby bear just wanted to play. There’s something magical about that point of view. 🙂

I would really love to hear what you think about this post . . .

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s