Bears and Rumors of Bears

By , June 23, 2011

If you’re reading Mary Oliver’s Twelve Moons as a lunar calendar with me this year, it’s the first quarter moon, and time to read another poem, The Truro Bear.

This must be one of Oliver’s more popular poems, as I have run across it frequently since becoming a fan in 2001 or so. The first lines made me laugh, because she could have written it about a bear sighting in our neighborhood.

As you can imagine in a forest community, bears and rumors of bears, moose, and other animals are common topics of discussion. Moose are first and foremost, being most common on our peninsula, and arguably more dangerous. Bears don’t come to our side much anymore. Mostly, they go out and graze the tide flats at the head of Mud Bay, although neighbors up that way say they’ve seen few this year. They are a shadowy presence, occasionally revealing a paw print here, a pile of scat there, perhaps a bit of hair caught on a log they brushed up against.

The big animal news on the bay right now is that porcupines are returning. Apparently they have a population cycle of about five years, which is just now rising again. That has everyone shoring up their garden fences, a much more significant mobilization than we’ve ever seen over the possibility of bears in the neighborhood.

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