I expect I have mentioned before that Juneau has a number of Black bears every
spring and summer. There's a hiking trail that I and many others use year-round.
The first sign is usually finding bear scat (small and shiny black) on the trail. Yep,
two batches in early June. Then there was scat in my driveway. No problem, except
the drive is only about twenty feet long and rather grassy as I don't have a car.
Fortunately, I have a wooden fence around the house, but the gate opens onto the
drive.


A few days later there was another scat and then another later. No bear in
sight, which was just as well.


About two weeks ago I was walking home from the shop (around eight
minutes, but the last part is up the very steep hill on my street, Dixon, which has
about twelve houses total on it). At the end of my drive, right by the staircase that
goes down to the street below, was a bush. There is no bush there; yes, it was a
bear. A young one, likely a yearling, just standing there. He was awfully cute, and I
greeted him. He began walking towards me and I realized you are supposed to be
firm with young bears, so I told him several times he should leave. He stopped,
then turned, and walked down the hill, through the giant vacant lot on Dixon below
my house that I love as a bit of wilderness in the heart of the downtown (across
from the stairs I mentioned is the Governor's House; very impressive to cite unless
you know the neighborhood). The lot has bushes and trees, squirrels and the
occasional porcupine, so the bear had plenty of room.


Then a few days ago I did have a scare. My walk home involves passing the
Capitol building and City Museum across a narrow street beside it. Next to the
museum is a small grassy area backed and bordered by a very steep hill with trees
and bushes. (I may have told you Juneau was built down the mountainside from
the stream where gold was discovered.) There is only one sidewalk along the
street. That leads to the foot of my hill. I came around across from the museum and
there in front of me was the largest Black bear I have ever seen. He was strolling
along the sidewalk about forty feet away. Cars were coming and going along the
street. I thought of going back to the next street and up that hill, then down and
around to Dixon


. However, the city has been doing major work on Main Street, which must involve
water or sewer or both, as very deep pits have been dug. I was amused at the signs
announcing the road was closed, as anyone not noticing pits around twenty feet
deep rather deserved to fall in.


At any rate, as I later thought, I was indeed between a bear and a deep
place. While I was debating action and watching the bear, a car approached on the
street, horn honking loudly. The driver, who said he was trying to frighten the bear
(the bear ignored the noise) stopped and wondered if I'd like a ride home. Oh, my,
yes! So he sweetly drove several blocks over where no construction was taking
place and then came down Dixon Street to my house and let me off.
The next evening, no large bear, but as I headed up Dixon hill, the yearling
bear came crashing down through the trees and bushes on the hillside, jumped
down the four-foot-high retaining wall and into the street just across from me. I was
on the sidewalk and this time, when the bear started to join me, I fussed at him,
rather as I did at my children when they were young and not behaving themselves.
He obediently returned to the street, and even ran a bit at times. Fortunately, the
few cars were all parked and empty. One problem; as we approached my driveway,
he turned and went into it. Now what? I decided if he were still there when I
reached the driveway, I would call my daughter to drive over and perhaps frighten
him off. Most fortunately, when I peered around, the bear was gone. He must have
repeated his retreat into the vacant lot.


Two days later, as I walked up my hill, a woman had a camera on a tripod
and was standing on the sidewalk, taking pictures of the Governor's House. She
told me she'd been told to take care as a mother bear and cub were further up the
hill. I was watchful, but saw nothing. The next day my neighbor across the street
told me she'd seen the pair, but they had left before I came.


(If you're wondering, I couldn't come around my house from the back, as
there is a twenty-foot retaining wall that keeps the street from falling onto my house.
My up-street neighbor's house backs onto a very steep hill as well.) The front or
nothing.


Last night when I was walking home, I met a young woman coming from the
Governor's House sidewalk. She told me to be careful; she hadn't seen it, but was
told a young bear was hanging around. I proceeded home cautiously, but nothing
there.


It is now getting dark and I need to go home. I do believe I'm going to sing
some songs, rather loudly. As it's Sunday, I might do "Onward, Christian Soldiers"
or some other hymn. I will not sing "The Bear Went Over the Mountain."

Dee

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