Bears and Bells

The sky was just getting light when I walked home from Morning Muscles at seven. Up by Fort Seward I heard a jingling, and then saw a small flashing red light. As they both came closer I saw the light was on a dog collar and the bear bells were on the owner's coat. "Hi Heather" she said, and kept walking down toward the beach. The ground was scattered with yellow birch and cottonwood leaves, gulls called and a raven chortled. The trucks working on the new dock warmed up and rumbled. It was quieter on the back side of town, coming over Cemetery Hill to the Chilkat River. At the bottom of the hill I saw some bear scat and hummed a little, and then noticed wet paw prints on the road. By now the sky was lavender and pink. There is fresh snow on the mountains and a nice fall feeling. There was a jeep parked on the shoulder and a bear guide and hunter were glassing the delta. "There's a lot of bears over there," I said. The hunter said, "yes ma'm", in a very southern accent. That's why I stayed up on the road rather than cut down on the beach to my house. I'll wait to walk the dogs there until the day is brighter and the bears are home sleeping. Still, aren't we lucky to live in a place so wild that bears walk down the streets at night? 

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