Three years ago a bear showed up here. The first hint we had of its arrival was the metal birdfeeder poles beng bent and the emptying of said birdfeeders. So we took down the birdfeeders and, after a few months, the bear went away.
Last year Hans, who does useful things in the woods like building bridges and removing fallen trees, put up an electric fence around the bee hives, on the theory that it was just a matter of time until a bear returned; we had been told by local beekeepers that an electric fence would keep a bear out in the first place, but that if the bear had discovered an unprotected hive and raided it once, the bear would go through an electric fence to get back to it.
Yesterday, Hans told me, a black bear turned up: wandered out of the woods, was barked at by the dogs (Cabal and his playdate), and retreated.
I was on my way out -- I went into KNOW in Minneapolis to do some interviews for a Morning Edition Special I'm doing on Audio Books and then on to DreamHaven to sign several mountains of books for Greg. (A photo of about 3/4 of the book mountain.) -- and got home by firefly-filled dusk in time to walk the dog.
Walk. The dog. At night. By the woods. Right.
I didn't have a dog the last time there was a bear around.
Mostly I was just sensible -- didn't go through the woods that the bear had wandered out of, made enough noise and carried a light -- but I noticed that Cabal was behaving differently: sticking close to me, either protective or nervous, not nosing off after adventures as he usually does if we're out together in the evening.
I hope the bear simply moves on, leaving the hives unmolested. The last one left, after all.
Am now at airport. For the next few days other people will have to decide how to walk the dog through night-woods inhabited by the ghosts of a thousand imaginary bears.