"What...was that?" I heard John's voice. It was midnight. I thought I had heard something myself. Or had I? I couldn't remember for sure. I was in that drowsy, dozey state of sleep where you can't tell if you were already awake or not. No, I had definitely dozed off. I think. But I must have heard something, because John had heard it, too.
"I don't know. Probably just the house settling." I wasn't concerned, just sleepy. "I'm sure it's nothing," I thought to myself and then closed my eyes. I had come to bed later than I had planned. I had been knitting and waiting on the last batch of chocolate chip cookies to come out of the oven at 10 o'clock when John had come and kissed me goodnight. I had stumbled into bed at 11 after putting my knitting and the cookies away, their sweet and chocolatey aroma wafting out of the open upstairs' window into the night air. And now I was trying to figure out if I'd fallen asleep. I must have, because the numbers on the alarm clock glowed "12:03".
Suddenly there were loud sounds of scratches and grating and banging and something being knocked over in the usually still and quiet night. WHAT???! John and I both bolted upright in bed and froze. "A drunk man on the porch?", I thought to myself. (It's funny where your mind goes when you're half-asleep.)
"Look outside!", I whispered to John. My heart was beating fast now. You see, our bed's headboard is against the front of the house right under a window. Whatever or whoever was making all that noise was right on the other side of the wall from us. I could literally feel the wall vibrating behind me. In my biggest and best hope of hopes John would look out the window and see a bear. Not a man, but a bear.
He slowly and cautiously peeked through the curtains, then quietly opened them up at the middle and separated the panels. The moon was out, shining directly into our bedroom and onto John's face. He got up on his knees and peered over the headboard out the window. Then a sweet and amused smile appeared on his face, and I knew. "Come and look at this," he whispered.
I joined him, he and I on our knees looking into a moonlit night and a big beautiful bear on all fours pawing at the siding on the front of the house frantically. What had he seen? What was he after? I couldn't even breathe I was so in awe. I could see the moonlight reflecting all the way down his wonderfully furry back. His nose was down in the grass sniffing now. I was looking down through the window onto the back of his head.
John jumped up to retreive a flashlight from the other room. (Why didn't we have a flashlight by the bed? We always have a flashlight by the bed. Ah, the kids! Why do kids have a thing for flashlights???) I stayed right where I was, but John leaving the room stirred awake a little sleeping princess who had fallen asleep in my arms earlier that evening. "Mom?" She was now the one half asleep. "A bear! It's a bear, Em! Look!" I whispered so as not to disturb our visitor. I didn't want to scare him away.
She sat up on her knees next to me, and then in an instant Bear decided to say 'hello'. One moment he was on all fours, and the next, he was standing up on his hind legs. We were face to face, he and I. Only a pane of glass between us. He was beautiful. Big and beautiful. The most beautiful creature I have ever seen. Even now I get chills just thinking about it. I instinctively fell back on my heels. (Staring a bear in the face will do that to you.) But he just looked. He cocked his head to the side and then looked into the room, to the right and then to the left, just to see what he could see. So curious. Not agitated. Not aggressive. Just so curious.
Emma and I sat spellbound and didn't make a single noise. Then seeing that he wasn't the least bit aggressive, I sat back up on my knees. I didn't want to miss a thing. He looked at me again, and then went back down on all fours, turned around and went straight to the thing that he most likely came for in the first place: sarvis berries.
I had never even heard of sarvis berries before coming to Colorado. They are known as serviceberries or Saskatoons in other parts of the country and Canada. They are everywhere here. They are similar in appearance to blueberries, but not related. They even have a mild blueberry flavor when eaten fresh off the trees. Their seeds have a nutty, almost almond flavor. We had been told by our neighbors that bears love them. I had been hoping that maybe, just maybe, we would get to see a bear now that the sarvis berries were ripe.
Bear walked about 6 feet over to a berry bush, sat down on his haunches, and had a midnight berry snack right in full view of Emma, me, and John who had returned with the flashlight. He shined the light on Bear, and we got an even better view of his face. Just like a teddy bear. Or a Disney cartoon. Is it ridiculous that in that moment I wanted to rush outside and HUG him tightly? Yes? Well, I wanted to nonetheless! And I also remember thinking, "Wow. You look exactly like a bear! Like the pictures in the books. Or the movies. You look like a bear!" (Of course, he looked like a bear. He is a bear. Hey, I was jarred awake from a drowsy, dozey sleep. This was surreal. Cut me some slack.)
After he had his fill he walked to the side of the house. The three of us jumped up and ran to the utility room, the only room on the side of the house with a window. We must have looked a sight, the three of us tripping over each other to get to the window. There he was, pacing back and forth. He stopped next to another berry bush right next to where my car, Ruby, was parked. He sniffed at the bush, but the berries there weren't quite ripe yet. He scratched his belly with his hind leg for several seconds. Oh, how I wanted to HUG him!
He walked back to front yard (we hurriedly followed, naturally) and then walked across the front of the house under our front window one more time before disappearing into the night. It happened so fast. I wished so badly the boys could have seen it all. They were sound asleep upstairs. John went into the living room and could hear the neighborhood dogs barking down the mountain. His visit was over.
I have waited and hoped every night for Bear to come back. Perhaps he has, but he hasn't awakened us again. I've been sleeping with the camera next to the bed just in case. (No, I didn't take the bear picture in this post. That isn't my Bear.) It seems there was a hole in the siding, and Bear decided to investigate it, but finding nothing settled for the berries instead. I've since discovered that some of the Lamb's Ear in the flower bed next to another berry bush have been flattened and knocked over. Yes, I think he's been back.
Emma and I went out yesterday and picked a big bowl full of berries for cereal and muffins and pancakes.
No worries though. We left plenty for Bear.