September 8, 2021

The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. (Isaiah 11:7)

I never paid much attention to bears because I didn’t need to, until I moved to Woodstock, VA two years ago. Since arriving here, I’ve learned to pay attention bears, thanks to the fact that there are lots of brown ones in and around Woodstock.

I’ve heard first person testimonies about bear sightings around our block. I’ve seen upended trash bins, their contents scattered around, and imagined that a bear might have been responsible. But since I’ve never personally encountered one, their presence is easy to ignore.

That is, until Saturday morning when I was returning from a walk with Kiko. My neighbor was just pulling out of his driveway and rolled his window down to talk. He told me that earlier that morning, his wife looked out a window and spotted a brown bear digging in their trash bin and scattering debris in the yard between our garages. She heard a dog bark and saw the bear walk away.

That dog was Kiko, out for a brief time to do his business while we were eating breakfast. It was just after Rod had walked out to the mailbox to get the newspaper. Kiko, who has never chased a squirrel and appears to be blind to deer, spotted a bear on the other side of our flimsy fence and barked him away. Good boy, Kiko!

I swim in oceans that are homes to sharks, have gardened in North Carolina what is home to copper head snakes, and now reside in bear country. Until that day when God ushers in the time when the cow will feed with the bear, exercise reasonable caution. The secret to staying safe isn’t to never swim or garden or remain indoors for the rest of my life. The secret isn’t really a secret at all. It is simply using common sense. Don’t swim in murky waters. wear long pants and gardening gloves and check the ground around when working in the yard. Be bear aware at dusk and dawn. Get vaccinated and wear a mask indoors and in crowds.

Today I am thankful for a good neighbor, a faithful dog, and for God who has given us brains and the wisdom to use them.

~ Anne

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