As the day wanes, I sometimes see wildlife on the move. One of the wonderful aspects of hanging out by the river is watching the mergansers swim by. They seem to go downriver in the morning and upriver in the evening but don’t quote me on that.
Mergansers are a species of duck that have a distinctive crest of longer feathers on their head. When we started our adventure, the mother duck had close to a dozen chicks following her in the water. The word “cute” really applies to these downy creatures. In the river, they are either furiously paddling to keep up with mom or they are getting tossed around in the rapids. They are tough little characters.
I’ve gone as far as I can go with my painting and I begin to pack up my easel and pastel box. I’m feeling pretty tired as I didn’t sleep much last night and it seems like a long time ago when I woke up at 4:30 am. I retrieve the food bag from the river which keeps our beers cold. This is our little treat every evening with appetizers before dinner.
As I’m getting ready to head up to the cabin, I look downriver and see the willows shake and part. A black bear emerges from the bushes but on the opposite side of the river from me, thank goodness. It’s probably about 500 feet away.
I want Gini to see the bear so I yell up at her “Gini, bear!” “Where?” she yells back and I yell “Downstream, on the other side.” I’ve got all my gear hanging off of me and I practically run up the path onto our rock perch. Gini is there with bear spray ready to throw it over the edge to me. I drop everything and run over to the other side of the cabin where we can look downstream.
By the time I get there, the bear is gone. Gini had been yelling “Go, bear, get out of here!” over and over again even though she hadn’t seen the bear. Gini thought the bear was down on the beach with me and was trying to scare it away. Downstream the bear had heard her yelling and had retreated back into the willows.
I point to the spot where I saw the bear. Just as we are about to go back into the cabin, the bear reappears in the same spot. It swims across the river.
We are yelling, “Go away bear!” Its ears stand at attention. We can tell it has heard us as it looks in our direction. We don’t want the bear to come down the trail toward us so we continue to yell. That poor bear must have scurried in the other direction as fast it could go but not before I’ve taken photos and a videos. The whole incident lasts maybe a minute.
We are so excited—we have been fortunate to see a bear and at a safe distance. My adrenaline is pumping, so much so that I don’t realize that I’ve stepped on a sharp rock in my bare feet and bruised the pad of my right foot.
Finally we settle down and I go into the cabin to make a dinner. Gini took a bath earlier and literally sat in one of our steel tubs to wash. The water had sloshed over the side of the tub, so Gini had to mop the cabin floor. Bonus—we have a clean floor!
I make quinoa with Brussels sprouts and mushrooms and wrap it in a tortilla. By the time dinner is over, my foot is really starting to throb. I brought a pain relieving ointment which I rub in and I also take a couple of ibuprofen.
I’m dead tired and decide to go to bed and read. After 5 minutes, I can’t understand a word I’m reading. I was working my way through Gini’s notes from her painting class with Rusti Warner. I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to finish…as I peacefully drift off…
Animals we saw today:
Tracks of something?
Indian Paint Brush