by Sherry Simpson
I saw the bear first. I turned from the ocean’s calm edge toward the dusky blue of Reid Glacier, and there it was, striding over the spit in the honeyed evening light, stiff green stalks of beach rye parting against its flanks. The bear was coming toward us. It was looking at us.
“There’s a bear,” I said. My voice was low. My husband was standing by the kayak and turned around to look. I did not know what else to say.
The bear kept coming. It was not so large as brown bears go, but it was large enough. Its amber pelt shaded into dark chocolate on its face and legs. Its head was low and its eyes small and intent, shining against the light. The bear was looking at us. To have a bear look at you and yet continue walking toward you means life is quite different from what you imagined.
“Hey bear,” I called, raising my arms and waving. This is what you do at these times. Let the bear know you are there. Pretend to be larger than you are. Give the bear a chance to move away once it recognizes your presence. Speak in friendly but firm tones. “Hey bear, what’s going on?” I said in a friendly way, and then I added, firmly, “We don’t want any trouble.”
The bear did not pause. It walked deliberately in its pigeon-toed way across the cobbles, and now it was close enough that its intentions seemed to surge before it like a wave. Without meaning to, I stepped backward into the water. Cold seeped through my rubber boots. A person is not supposed to run away from bears. Anyway, there was...