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Day of the Sparrow

Living With Bears

Living With Bears

For 12 years, I have lived in the Catskill Mountains, which means living with bears. When we first moved here from Manhattan, my wife, my daughter, and I rented an apartment in the hamlet of Shandaken. This was in a former boarding house used to train prizefighters, in an isolated mountain pass. Almost every night the bears would rifle through our garbage. The next morning, you could gauge their response to the food. The creatures had gnawed on our neighbors’ leftover spareribs, but had thrown our millet and lentils down contemptuously. Clearly they agreed with Yogi Bear, who famously opined: “Nuts and berries—yecchhh!” Bears are no fans of health food.

Once I saw a bear dragging the black plastic garbage bag across the road, walking backwards—exactly like a bankrobber backing out of a bank, with a bag of money and a revolver.

Now we live in Phoenicia, where once a bear entered our house. This sounds like a tall tale, but one morning my wife was at the computer, writing an article about bears, who had recently become more aggressive in the area. (Violet’s a reporter for the Woodstock Times.) She heard some small sounds in the kitchen, and thought: “Sparrow’s up early!” After the sounds persisted, she stood up, to find a yearling just inside the house, patiently trying to open a small bale of dried alfalfa—food for our rabbit. Violet shrieked, and the bear retreated.

Since then, my wife decreed that no scraps of fruit shall be placed in our compost pile until December, when the bears are asleep. Since then, we’ve had no ursine guests.

But we see bears all the time, in Phoenicia, rifling through the dumpsters behind Brio’s—looking for pizza!

Sparrow lives in a double-wide trailer in Phoenicia, N.Y., with his wife, Violet Snow. He often writes for Ground Report. Sparrow has run for President of the United States five times. More by Sparrow