When she swung her head around and stared as us through the glass, I started wondering if this was such a good idea.
Down below, three or four cubs were sniffing at the grass below the bird feeder. I moved slowly, pulling the camera from the case, afraid to lift the flash.
She looked at us, confused, I guess, at finding light and movement on the other side of that usually dark glass, then turned away.
And we watched, amazed, as she climbed up on the porch railing, both her enormous back feet on the second rung, and stretching tall, reached for the pole that held the bird feeder.
It was her shaking that bird feeder that had woken us, the strange rattling and banging sound.
And then she was lumbering back down, and minutes later she loped back into the forest, calling her cubs to follow.
My pictures are pretty bad — the camera couldn’t focus in that dark and I didn’t want to attract her attention with the flash.
But she was the highlight of the rest of that weekend.
Every excuse possible, and we were talking about her again. “Did you hear her?” “I can’t believe I slept through that!” “Do you know how unusual four cubs is?” and so on and on and on. Eventually we were talking about how everyone was still talking about her.
During the day it was interesting, fun to wonder if she’d come back. I lay on that back porch, sunshine warming the cool mountain air, and watched goldfinches and chickadees flutter around that bird feeder.
At night, though?
As the sun set and the mountain air turned cold and we pulled closer to the fire, I felt the shadows behind me and wondered if she were waiting there for quiet to return.
We didn’t stay out long.
I’m curious, now, about how she learned to do that. It was a practiced habit, that much was clear from the way she simply walked on up, climbed the railing, and started shaking. I wonder how long it took her; whether she was exploring other food sources there on the porch and happened to realize she could shake the seeds out, or whether she’d planned it out that first time.
She seemed as surprised by our presence as we were by hers.
Falling back asleep that night I remembered the brown bears in the zoo, how they just slept and didn’t do much.
Who needs a zoo?