Imagination is the beginning of all creation. ~George Bernard Shaw

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Once Upon a Time, A Bear Followed Me Home

I am a crazy animal lover who, maybe because of that, has had some crazy animal experiences. Let it be known, I am on the prowl for more this summer! Here are five of my wildest encounters:  

5. I scare deer, and not the other way around.
One morning, I was enjoying one of my routine runs around the best plot of land in Ham Lake. Like usual, my eyes were darting all about the woods in hopes of spotting creatures who also call the area home. I heard birds, one pheasant, the buzz of pesky mosquitoes, and something small tramping through the underbrush. I was quite satisfied when I happened to look up and see four raccoons huddled together in a tree. I suppose that was the moment I began to run harder and enjoy the woods less. As I rounded one corner, a doe sprang from her slumber under a deer stand (truth) and bolted. It's incredible that I didn't see her since she was laying along my footpath, and awesome that I wasn't the least bit startled by the large mammal who leaped from the woods as I passed. I love stalking deer, but I'm no hunter. I'm bound and determined to pet a wild one! This story was the closest I've come to date.  

4. I witnessed the meeting of two famous cats.
I am a living testament to the possibility of both loving cats way too much and still being (somewhat) cool. It's indisputable: I am a cat lady. In August, I attended the 2nd Annual Internet Cat Festival at the Minnesota State Fair, where the audience cooed when sensations Little Bub (the cute) and Grumpy Cat (the despicable) met on stage for the first time ever. Both were rather intimidated by each others' fame, but it was still awesome to see them together!

Lacy watches my author interview.
My cats are photographed as if they're famous.
Different kind of headlock.


3. Caterpillars grow into butterflies... in my mouth.
Since becoming a teacher, I have fallen in love with collecting monarch caterpillars in August and watching them change into butterflies. Initially, it was an introductory science unit to kick off a fun, hands-on school year. Since then, raising the monarchs has been my own quirky passion. That was, until I began have a recurring nightmare in which all the caterpillars chose the same, unique location to spin their silk button, insert their spinnerette, and hang out in J-phase until it was time to turn into a chrysalis. That location? My mouth. Even in my dreams, I was worried about disrupting the creatures during their most delicate stage of the life cycle. Naturally, I had my mom (who would often accompany me on these caterpillar-hunting sessions) reaching in two hands at a time to take the caterpillars out while I gagged on them and her fingers. There's nothing like a good summertime nightmare, especially one that keeps coming back long after the caterpillars have transformed and flown south!

2. A seagull once cast a spell on me.
I was walking to class one morning in Duluth, Minnesota when one of my strangest animal encounters occurred. A seagull suddenly swooped down from the sky to look me in the eye, quite literally. It was a methodical descent, not a agitated one, which made the occurrence totally unnerving. Surprised, I kept still while the bird slowly flapped it's wings to hover at eye-level. I felt like time slowed down. It was unreal! It just stared at me! I think it would have let me pet it in midair if I'd tried. Finally, I ducked down and ran under the bird to continue on my way. It lurched backward toward me, but also lifted a bit. I think it cast a spell on me. For what, I'll never know.

1. A bear followed me home from church one day. It was a sunny summer day in Duluth, Minnesota. I had just gone to church on campus, and was walking back to my house when something terrifying decided to join me on the stroll. A HUGE black bear emerged from the woods, crossed the road, and stepped onto the sidewalk like a civilized creature. He was anything but that. His fur was rough and matted. One of his ears was bitten and bloody. I. Was. Terrified! My heart raced and my pace naturally quickened. To my dismay, his did too! The bear lumbered along the sidewalk behind me. Finally, he took a turn toward an apartment building where I later learned bears frequent the dumpster. Maybe he was hungry and on a quest for a better breakfast than skinny-white-girl. Maybe, like me, he just wanted to get close enough to pet such a wild creature!

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