Ben & Rob & Bear

It was just one of those beautiful mornings in early June in the way, way North…the kind of day which starts out bright at 5 – and just gets brighter.

It was yesterday.

They had hired a Guide, Ben and Rob did.

He was “Big Jim”.
Someone to teach them fly-fishing in the Canadian Rockies.
So there they were, in hip waders, in streams.
Just a flick of the wrist, it is said. There is a rhythm to it – flick forward and back.
And back again.
The sparkling sun on the water. Standing, standing.
Standing for a bit longer.
Nothing caught. No one was biting. I have written before about Fishing — that you cannot call a fish to your line and neither can you call Fate to your door.
And yet She comes.
No fish in this place.    But there was another presence.
More sun, more sparkling water. More standing. No bites.
And now they are in their waders, on boulders near the base of a dam…when a shadow passes in front of the sun at the top, just above them.
Fate, She comes. She stands on those rocks above them in the shape of a Grizzly.

But this is my world, my stream, she seems to say as she stares at them.
From only…Thirty yards away.
Big Jim tells Ben and Rob – ‘get behind me’ – and he waves his arms and blows a whistle and pretends to be big and confident and, well, BIG.
While Big Jim is posturing, Rob is whipping out his phone and snapping pictures. They use their sternest voices:

“Go Away”, they tell her.

The bear ambles down the rocks, appears to go around them in a wide berth, then turns to look at them again.
And she stares.

“Go Away,” they tell her again.
The stare of Fate in the form of a grizzly bear is terrifying. Ben tells me he thinks of a small rabbit in the garden…suddenly freezing upon seeing a person. Ben says he understands that freezing and humility…that fear.
I was that rabbit, he says.

Rob thinks of things a bit differently.  He has survived more than his share of health challenges.   He is thinking — this is peaceful.    My life is totally within the control of this grizzly.   What will happen will happen.
So the bear appears to lose interest and looks away.
Begins to pad, pad, pad past them.
Then stops. And turns to look at them again.
Thinks that Ben and Rob and Guide are super interesting, doing something VERY interesting in the lake that belongs to her…in the forest that belongs to her.
On that mountain which belongs to her.
She begins to approach them.

“Go Away” — a third time, they tell her.
Now Big Jim has the whistle out again. And his phone.
And the dreaded Bear Spray.

(But in my humble opinion by the time the Bear Spray is out of your pocket and the grizzly bear is approaching — you have a lot of praying to do and singing to do, and loudly — and fast.)

Now it seems that Big Jim is somehow taking pictures and waving his hands – BIG hands, “jazz hands”, and making noise and it is all going very fast as the bear begins to approach them.
Pad, pad, pad…now fifteen feet away.
It is enough excitement already, Ben is thinking. I have had enough excitement. The sun, the sparkle and the bear.

Rob is peaceful, accepting.
And suddenly she changes her mind…and if she had heels she would turn on them. She pivots.
And pads away.

She crosses to the other shore — and pounces upon a party of geese.  That bear was hungry.   She wanted meat.

It is while she is pouncing those geese that Rob realizes:  she decided not to eat us.

She decided — NOT to eat us.
And Ben and Rob and Big Jim – begin to breathe again.
Somehow, as Fate retreats they somehow catch a few lake trout.   They catch a little too much sun. They catch a lesson as well:
The land is the bear’s. It was her territory. Her home. Her place.
They grasp those rods – a flick of the wrist – forward and back…and they get that there are places in this world which are not meant for us. We are the guests of the powerful, mysterious and magical creatures who roam our world.
There but for the Grace of God – and Guide – and Grizzly – go I.

Ben and Rob and their Trout!


[Bear Photo Credits:  Robert Tronetti]

[Fishing Photo Credit:  Big Jim]

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