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.