This year a huge patch of wild blackberries has grown up just a few feet from one end of our vegetable garden. These dense bushes, which cover a radius of twenty or so feet, are almost as tall as I am and they are just loaded with huge, beautiful berries. One day last week I was picking berries from the front of the patch. My husband and sons were splitting and carrying firewood… they were all quite a distance away from me, but still near enough so we could all see each other. Then a very odd thing happened. For no apparent reason, I suddenly started feeling extremely anxious, uneasy, and apprehensive, with a strong sense that something was very wrong. All I wanted at that moment was to get out of there. I tried to ignore the feeling and continue to pick the berries, but the feeling was just too overwhelming, so I turned and started to walk away. As I did, I turned to look back towards the berries… and was just in time to see a black bear rear up on its hind legs just about a foot in front of me. It stood facing me and looking directly at me, then turned and ran in the opposite direction into our woods.

When the bear stood up, it made a guttural sound that was so loud my husband and sons looked to see what was happening, and they all saw me standing there with the bear looming up so tall and so close to me. I’ve never seen people move as fast as they did to get to me. After I regained control of my legs, :o) we all went around to the back of the blackberry bushes, and we could see two beaten-down paths that the bear had made… and a very large area in the middle where the bear obviously had been lying down. I don’t know who must have been more surprised… the bear finding itself suddenly face to face with a person or me finding myself suddenly face to face with a bear.

And apparently that out-of-nowhere fear I experienced was typical… several people have told me since that it isn’t unusual for someone to feel that type of apprehension when they don’t know it, but they are being “watched” by a dangerous animal.

We’re still picking blackberries almost every day, but with a difference… the very first thing we do out there is to make a thorough “bear check” through the berry patch. None of us wants a repeat of what happened last week. It is bad enough to have bears roaming around outside the house during the night, but this face to face confrontation in broad daylight was just a little too close for comfort.