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Girl Meets Bear

by Nancy Ames

It was, in retrospect, quite a comical episode
the time I got my first real clue about the power
of human instinct, when I began to grudgingly respect
the body`s ability to know...

We had gone on a camping trip to Algonquin Park,
shortly after Jamie and I fell in love. We were both
absolutely desperate to get away from the city and
our gossipy crowd of fashionable friends. No big deal.
Perfectly normal and natural, right? We simply wanted
to be alone together, to be sheltered and hidden by
the great Canadian forest.

So then what happened was that, on a lazy summer-holiday
morning, while wonderful warm woodsy breezes were riffling
the water on the lake, I crawled out of the little yellow
pup-tent under the trees, where Jamie was sound asleep in
our big double sleeping-bag. Lying there in the leaf-patterned
tent-shade, he was looking so beautiful that I knew all of a
sudden that he possessed the terrifying power to break my

Once outside the tent, I stood up among the early morning
sun-beams and felt that there was a sweet new wistfulness
in my happiness that day. Then I got an exuberant impulse
and took the little red canoe out onto the lake because
its deep emerald waters were covered in wispy mist and so
many sun-sparkles and I needed to be out there in the open
among all the dancing sun-sparkles.

The leafy green of the forest was hanging out over the rocky
shore, with the pale blue mists of morning dissolving beneath
the drooping branches. Birds and insects were twittering and
buzzing as they moved between the brightness of the air and
the black shadows under the big trees.

As I paddled along, everything I saw seemed to express my gentle,
delighted mood to perfection. I was floating slowly past the
shoreline, gazing raptly into the clear water at all the pretty
little minnows and water-bugs darting through the water-weeds
down there. I hadn`t had that pretty drifting underwater feeling
since I was a small child. I could just barely even remember it.

But then I heard a sort of whuffling grunt and looked up and a
huge black bear was standing up on its hind legs in the bushes
at the edge of the lake, about six feet ahead of me. Bears, of
course, are notoriously short-sighted and I had been gliding
along so quietly that the big bear was probably as surprised as
I was myself, which was not a good thing.

I have absolutely no memory at all of turning the canoe around
and taking off, which still makes me laugh. The next thing I knew
I was paddling back to camp as fast as I could, which was pretty
darn fast, believe me. My body, you see, had known exactly what
was happening and had instantly overruled my silly, hesitating
brain. It had been a highly shocking revelation to my vain and
domineering intellect and I can still recall that incident with
almost startling clarity. I pay strict attention to those subtle
warnings now and I`m still walking around and talking and everything.


Author's Note: I like writing first-person fiction because portraying a character this way contributes to the immediacy of the written experience.

Posted on 04/13/2018
Copyright © 2019 Nancy Ames

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