The Bear Facts

When I was in 7th grade in Bryson, Texas, I went with my class on an outing on a little creek that wound through a park in nearby Graham. We hadn’t gone more than about 100 feet when my canoe-buddy dropped his oar in the water and attempted to reach waaaaaaaay out there to get it. Next thing I know, I’m swimming to the bank. Since that time, I have yet to get in a raft or canoe on any river, calm or gently rushing, without falling into said river.

Another trip, before I met Yvonne, was down a  nearly stagnant, mosquito-infested “creek” in the Beaumont, Texas area. The young woman with whom I shared a canoe had never been in one before. No problem, because I, the seasoned veteran, had canoed(?) 3 or 4 times before. She, on the other hand, had never set foot off dry land (apparently), and seemed hesitant to offend the creek by dipping a paddle in and disturbing it.

For the next couple of hours, I did nothing but paddle as she held tightly to the sides of the canoe. When we got to the end of the trip, we pulled up to a little wooden dock. I grabbed a line that was hanging over the side and into the water and held the canoe steady while she stepped up onto it, and watched as she rapidly walked away. Of course, as I tried to step up the canoe drifted away from the dock and I fell in.

Several other trips, same outcome.

I told you this to establish my track record and to explain why I’m a tad nervous about the “float” trip that Yvonne and I are going to take when we go to Alaska in two weeks. History seem to dictate that I’ll end up in the water, and that the story, “someday ages and ages hence”, will be told something like this…

“So one day, I’m sauntering down to the riverbank, enjoying the scenery and wondering ‘twigs and berries or rainbow trout…wait…maybe king salmon …no…pink…PINK salmon…for dinner‘, and as I get to the bank, THIS thing drags itself up out of the water, looking all waterlogged and half-drowned.  So I say to myself, ‘Hey, I have an adventurous palate, and I’m always open to a new taste treat…’  Well, about that time, our eyes locked, and it made this..this…sound – about the closest thing I can compare it to is an eagle’s screech, except this was long and drawn out. Anyhoooooo, it drags itself to its feet and begins to run! But it wasn’t real fast, and I was laughing so hard at the zigzag escape pattern – they all try that, you know – laughing so hard that I could barely stand up, so I let it run a bit just so it would think it had a chance of escaping. I still caught it after about 30 yards or so. Then it gave another of those screech sounds and messed itself. So, you know, I just tore off its outer skins and took and washed it in the river, and you know what? It wasn’t half bad! Tasted – heck, fought – like a baby seal, but a little tougher., texture-wise…'”

And in my mind’s eye, I see the bear recounting this story over and over again, and laughing about it with his cubs and grandcubs, and with his buddies as they enjoy one more martini before settling down for their long winter’s nap. My only hope is that the salmon runs (King, Red, Pink, Silver and Chum) are over before we get there, or begin after we leave.

Great. Just checked the salmon run dates. Pretty much solid for the month of July. I have a really bad feeling about this.


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