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Pique N' Interest

Close encounters of the bear kind

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It must have been about three o’clock in the afternoon when I came face to face with the bear.

Even now, four days later, I still shudder with shame at my behaviour because the encounter was hardly what you would call my finest hour.

I thought everything I’d ever read or reported on would come flooding back to me in the event of meeting a black bear– that I would talk calmly to identify myself, that I would walk away slowly to relax the bear, that I would shout and wave my arms high and wide if he came closer.

Instead, I ran for safety and cowered in fear, leaving my boyfriend’s mom who was visiting from Ontario to simply fend for herself.

Like I said, it wasn’t my finest hour.

Most of us who live in Whistler are comfortable living side by side with the bears. Spotting a bear is commonplace. I’d seen three already before this latest encounter.

But there’s a big difference between spotting a black dot on the Creekside slopes or catching the tail end of a bear disappearing into the woods to seeing a bear hanging out by your kitchen window.

The experience began with a few afternoon cocktails in my kitchen the day after my boyfriend’s mom arrived for a visit.

While we were sipping our yummy pink drinks and catching up with all the news we heard a noise on the back deck close to the kitchen window.

Naturally I assumed it was my landlord rearranging some things outside.

After listening to the racket for about 15 minutes or so I decided to put down my martini and investigate the ruckus.

I wandered over to the kitchen, a mere three steps from my living room and there, framed in the kitchen window, was a big brown bear head.

All I can say is that instinct took over.

Upon seeing the bear I fled. I stood shaking at my bedroom door, pointing to the window and croaking out the words, "It’s a bear, it’s a bear, it’s a bear."

My boyfriend’s mom didn’t quite know what to do. She jumped off her chair, attempted to lock the door and huddled into a corner, surely believing that she was about to be ripped alive while I was holed up in safety in the bedroom.

There was a moment when nothing seemed to happen as we looked at each other paralyzed with fear.

The fact that concrete, glass and wood separated us from the bear was irrelevant. The fact that there has never been a bear attack in Whistler was forgotten in an instant.

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