My wife dropped a hint last Sunday at breakfast. “Maybe you should check the camera traps this morning so we can get to the restaurant on time.”
I got the message. It was our 50th wedding anniversary.
It was a little after 8:00 when I finished packing my rucksack, and that’s when I remembered that the only time I ever walked up on a bear was about this time in the morning.
It was a harmless amusement – I could hear mother bear high-tailing it down the slope and splashing across the creek, while her 2 cubs set a record descending a big old Douglas fir. I can still see them backlit in a haze of falling bark and dust. No way were they going to be left behind.
But fate can be ironic, and a fleeting thought -- “Bear mauls senior citizen on 50th wedding anniversary” -- cautioned me to take the bear spray (a birthday gift from my younger daughter).
And how many times has someone pulled their bear spray trigger, found the canister empty, and
witnessed their deliverance in painfully surreal slow motion?
I had better test it.
I pulled the trigger guard and squeezed ever so briefly . . . WOW!
The 10-foot plume of red pepper gas told me it wasn’t a dud.
And a moment later I found myself in the dilute invisible backwash.
And so did my blinking dog.
Sneezing and with one runny eye, we beat a hasty retreat into house.
The pepper cloud followed us into the kitchen with the cool air that funnels through the screen door in the morning.
Suddenly the redhead appeared, “What’s that smell? We’re being gassed!”
“I just tested the bear spray, Sweetie, and it works!” I coughed, “It’s not really THAT bad (cough).
She hurried off to get a dust mask, and I decided it was time to make our exit.
The rest of the day was a charm. We encountered no bears, arrived at the restaurant on time, and recounted our bear spray episode for family entertainment.
“He hasn’t changed a bit in 50 years,” said the redhead.
"I’m lucky she still likes me," said the codger.