I wrote the following words in the middle of the night of May 22, 2015.
I shouldn’t have had that coffee. And I certainly shouldn’t have had the Dr. Pepper on top of it.
Sure, I had the coffee before 9am, and I drank the last of the Dr. Pepper by 5pm, but yes, I am so sensitive that I’m awake at 1am.
I read until 10pm, and then I did sleep some–fitfully–but now I’m wide awake. I finally turn on the Luci light and grab my notebook. I can’t lie in the dark another moment.
Why are noises so much louder in the dark?
Not that there’s much noise out here in the forest at 1am. Mostly I hear the popping and thumping of the van as it cools in the night air, but there are also sporadic metallic pings as water (actual raindrops or just the moisture of the fog dripping from the trees, I don’t know), hits the roof of the van. Farther off, there’s a steady dripping sound; I don’t know what or where it is, but it reverberates in the silence.
Do I hear a bear, or is that the grumble and groan of my own belly? I honestly can’t tell in the quiet dark.
Yesterday when I got home from Little Babylon, night was falling, fog was settling in, and chill was wrapping around, so I cooked in the van. I left the doors open while I did it. Has the odor of food dissipated? Can the bear(s) smell the airborne molecules of my dinner? Will a bear try to rip a van door off in the night to get food that’s now in me?
Bear or belly?
Are those bear footsteps I hear? (What do bear footsteps sound like?)
I’m wearing the shirt I wore to cook in, which I just found out is a no-no in bear country. But if I took it of, it would still be in the van with me, still smelling of tofu and brown rice and peas. (What kind of hippie bear wants to eat tofu and brown rice and peas?) It’s not like I can lock my cooking clothes in the trunk. (No trunk in this van.) But if I’m wearing the cooking clothes, will the bear(s) attack me when it/they rip off my door, lured by the lingering scent of dinner caught in the fabric?
Shit! The paper cup I was drinking Dr. Pepper out of? It’s up front, on the floor next to the driver’s seat. I forgot to throw it away in town. I meant to throw it away as soon as I got to the campground, but I forgot about it again. Bears may not want tofu and brown rice and peas, but they sure as shootin’ want some Dr. Pepper and can probably smell the sticky sweet remnants clinging to the sides of the cup.
Should I get out of the van and walk through the foggy, drippy dark to deposit the cup in the trash can? That seems riskier than staying put.
Trash cans. The trash cans out here are not bear-proof, so it seems easier for a hungry bear to go for a trash can smorgasbord instead of attacking my van which harbors nothing but the faint smell of food. Attacking the trash cans would be so much easier. A trash can in the (bear) hand is worth two girls in a van…
My friend who communicates with angels would say that all this attention on bears is going to make the angels think I want a lesson, and they’ll send a bear my way. I actually address the angels aloud, ask for protection against bears, say I don’t need a lesson, no thank you.
Should I turn on the radio? A classic rock station comes through clear way out here in the trees. Music would mask and distract me from every little noise, but if a bear is indeed snuffling around out there, maybe I do want to hear it.
Don’t think about bears.
Don’t think about bears.
Don’t think about bears.
I locate my whistle. Bears don’t like loud noises. Right? I’d wear the whistle around my neck, but because it’s plastic, the circle used to attach it to things broke when I had it on my key ring in the city. Why didn’t I get a metal whistle before I came out here? Where can I put this whistle so I can find it immediately in the dark?
I heard that bears are most active at 4am. Are bears just now waking up, yawning and stretching, thinking about where to get breakfast? I think of the Berenstain Bears and the super annoying cartoon bears on the Charmin commercials. (Who thought it would work to have cartoon bears sell toilet paper? I guess we’re supposed to get the reference to bears shitting in the woods, but as far as I know, bears don’t wipe their asses. Why would I trust a bear to tell me what toilet paper I should buy?) However, if I do see a bear tonight (or any other night in the woods), it’s not likely to be cartoon cute or friendly.
I just want to see a bear from a safe distance. I just want to see one way over there. I do not want to see a bear ripping a door off my van so it can lick the dried Dr. Pepper from the sides of a Burger King cup. I do not want to see a bear eating my shirt.
I just want to sleep. Sleep. Sleep. I just want to close my eyes and sleep.
Folks camping in bear country where there are no bear boxes could use a bear canister for added piece of mind and a better night’s sleep.
Image courtesy of https://pixabay.com/en/black-bear-eating-wildlife-nature-1972228/.