Lessons From My Mother…

My mother was adventurous. Me, not so much. It bothered her deeply that I developed a distaste for camping, non made-up faces and informality at a dinner parties.

A good portion of my childhood was spent in the woods amidst my mother’s attempts to make me stronger. This included camping. In a tent. Away from other campers and rest rooms. And near bears. My mother could hoist food up a tree to keep Yogi and BooBoo from theft. Vacation? I think not.

Fast forward to adulthood. I can occasionally be found in a cabin in a wooded area. That cabin would include running water, flushable toilets, a solid roof and doors that lock. Don’t tell me not to lock them. You never know how smart any particular bear may be.

Havisham Days, the renamed Independence Day celebration for widowed duchesses, in its inaugural year, featured not only woods, but chickens, a heavily pregnant Baby Pea, a house in the woods with door locks, and a bear.

The sun rises. We pull open the double doors wide. Cool air envelopes Baby Chicken, Heavily Pregnant Baby Pea, this Widowed Duchess and Oldest Chicken. Coffee in hands. Conversation abounds. I do believe our last words were about the new babe about to join us.

Oldest Chicken shouts, “Hey!”

My son stands, arms above his head, moving swiftly toward open doors. Heads spin. A bear is on the porch, attempting entry. Childhood flashes and my thoughts go to garbage. The garbage is on the front porch. There was no warning from owners and that’s where the garbage can was upon arrival. I checked all written material as bears/woods is never from from mind once leaving The Dale.

Four people never moved so quickly for a door. We are a mass of arms akimbo, attempting to appear bigger than the bear. Lessons from my mother, the adventurer. Baby Chicken roars. It’s the roar of a small tiger and she clearly states, “Rawr.”

And then considers, “Why I think he’ll be afraid of a rawr, I’m not sure.”

Noses pressed to the window, we startle when Little Bear looks right at us. He is a babe, has no fear of humans and is clearly hungry. He can’t get to the garbage with all the ruckus we’re making so maneuvers his roundness over the barbecue grill to reach. Falls. Goes around the edge of the patio, hangs over the top rail, and removes the garbage lid (see, they are brilliant). He probably could unlock the door if anyone had bacon, which at this very moment we don’t, but we could have. With his over large teeth, he pulls the plastic bag through the spokes of the porch.

He gnaws and grabs, yanking a container of grease. I made coconut shrimp–delish. The Tommy Bahama recipe. It’s not like we’re roughing it out here. Pfft. Garbage spills to the ground and Little Bear carries it to the side of the cabin. Eight feet pitter-pat in unison to the side window to watch him eat grease, paper towels and anything aromatic. Then we feel bad. He’s hungry. Poor thing.

“He’s so hungry,” says Baby Chicken.

“Should we give him bacon?” inquires Baby Pea.

“NO,” simultaneously, Oldest Chicken and myself.

“He has to learn to forage. You don’t want him to come back. Some idiot will shoot him.” Suddenly my animal protection environmentalist rears its head. I don’t know her. Must be the genes from my mother.

He stays for quite a while, even poops looking directly at us and I am reminded again the disgust of all things nature.

Off he wanders. In the melee, we call Middle Chicken and Lawyer Boy, out for a walk. Do not come home. Half an hour later they round the bend, Lawyer Boy brandishing a large stick, ready for battle if need be.

My mother’s lessons did not include makeup and hair styles and pearls, but instead garbage and bears and foraging. Who knew that one would come in handy?


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