The El Paso taco dinner kit has been one of my favorite meals my whole life. During the course of dinner, my mom asked my dad what Larry had had to say about the bear. Apparently the bear had left some paw prints on our neighbor's house and even in our yard.
"You mean you didn't bother to tell me there were bear prints in the yard? Where are they?" I asked, looking out into the yard hopefully; it was still light out.
"They're probably gone by now," mom said, "We've been walking back and forth there all afternoon."
I sighed. I'm always missing the bear. Over the years, my parents have seen him a few times, but there's no photos, no video, no nothing to console myself with.
We've even had the talk: Do you really want me to wake you up at 5:00 AM if I see the bear? My dad assured me the only times he's seen the bear, it's been very early and all he could really see was a dark lump moving around. Also, by the time he woke me up, it would probably be gone. Since I detest being woken up to begin with, I reluctantly decided "No" was the proper answer.
I finished my fourth and final taco as Mom started telling me about last night's episode of House. I wasn't really in the mood to hear it, so I nodded politely and cleared my dishes. They weren't done eating yet, so I spent a few minutes in the kitchen, rinsing my hands, and getting caramel calcium chews for mom and me. I ate mine and whacked hers onto the counter so it would stand on its corner edge. I set it on top of a jar of olives; the silver wrapper shone warmly and cast a diamond-shaped reflection on the gold cap.
I walked back into the dining room to see if any dishes were ready to be cleared.
Through the sliding glass doors, I noticed something large and black by the tree that holds the wire cord for lowering the bird feeder.
"There's a bear!" I exclaimed.
My parents both looked at me blankly.
"No, really. There's a bear!" I said, pointing for emphasis.
As they got up to look, the bear brought its forepaws to the ground and started walking. I ran into the living room to follow its progress. Sleek black fur with the brown muzzle, just like pictures of real bears, at least 7 feet tall standing. Beautiful.
"Grab your slippers and come out on the deck*," mom called to me.
The bear walked out of view, so I ran back towards the door leading out of the kitchen. Only because dad was in the way did I pause to slip on the scuffs Mom had bought me so I wouldn't ruin my socks walking outside. I didn't want to waste one second of bear time.
"What's Larry's number?" Dad asked me.
"Why would I know?" I replied, shoving the storm door open.
Mom was already outside. She walked back toward the door and addressed my dad, "What's Larry's number?"
"He's already looking for it," I said, striding to the end of the deck. She went in to find it.
The bear was loping into Larry's yard, but it stopped and looked back at me. I waved and said, "Hi."
Then it continued straight towards Larry's house. Mom reappeared in the doorway, phone to her ear and cables strewn beside her. "Where's it at now?"
"It's right next to his house," I answered.
Dad joined me for another look. "Where is it now?" he asked.
I was leaning over the rail and pointed. "See where the concrete goes out the back of his house. I think that black bit there... yup, he just moved. He's right behind there or he's still going along the back."
"This guy came out at dusk. He's a young one," Dad commented.
I had been thinking how big he looked.
He continued, "He didn't even try going for the birdfeeder. He went straight for the cables holding it up."
"Well, he's not dumb."
"No, he's not."
Dad went back inside and Mom came back out; she asked, "Where did he go?"
I told her what I'd just told Dad and added, "I'm not sure if that's part of Larry's deck, or if I'm seeing part of the bear through a railing. It's hard to tell in this light."
"That's Larry's patio," she offered, though I still wasn't certain what I was looking at.
The air was biting and the reward for standing outside had moved out of view. I was glad I'd put the scuffs on afterall; the deck was sure to be as cold as the railing.
I went indoors elated. I saw a bear!
*Our deck extends from the second floor of the house, so there was no danger in that suggestion.
tags: tacos, dinner+conversation, bear+sighting, anecdote