Martini Club

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By cowbuyclown
September 18, 2002

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I can honestly say I love the fall. True winter can cover us with a magical coat of glistening beauty, and spring brings with it life renewed, but there is something that speaks to me during the moon of the ripening berries.

Being a product of my environment I have spent a lifetime in solitary existence and also I suppose in part to my introvert nature I am often alone even when I am not alone. But because of my quirk some nature, experiencing the completion in one of our life's yearly cycles, this season we call fall. I rediscover I am never really alone but instead I am but a peace in this process we call life.

Autumn is the most sensual of times for it speaks to us through not just one or two senses but all of our capacities equally. Our plate is full for the seeing, smelling, tasting, touching of another harvest of life's' yearly cycle.

A final burst of rainbow color seems to cloak the final flurry of activity of all animal and human beings. Man hastens to finalize a years worth of work that becomes a measurement of his success and our animal friends respond to cooler temperatures, shorter light, and to their various calls of nature so that each species might survive the moon of the cracking water and complete again the circle of life. And often lessons offered for those who choose to pause and indulge in this changing of seasons may learn lessons about their own co-existence that may help them when they reach the autumn of their life.

I knew of her existence for years though I had never seen her but once, three years previous. She in my estimate must have weighted 800 pounds but the little cub following at her heels was no bigger than a minute, as it was early May, I am sure I had happened upon one of this little guys first sashays from his birthing den.

I didn't give much thought to seeing a grizzly and her cub but as the seasons changed and the years went by I often caught myself wondering what happened to that little guy and sometimes pondered at how his mother reacted at realizing she was being watched by this human being and his horse on a ridge above them not a 100 yards away. Nothing; not one growl nor a startled look, instead she simply nuzzled her cub with her great head, set down then laying back gently coaxed her babe to her bosom for a mid morning meal. We watched each other for a while and as my horse cropped the new spring grass it did strike me odd that neither horse nor bear were concerned by the others presence. And I did wonder and I still do ponder what communication transpires between creatures, what signals are given so that one understands what the other is thinking.

Well there he was that black grizzly cub; it was three years later and he was alone. So was I. In bear and human years we were probably about the same age I, a lonesome kid at my uncle's remote cow camp and he a fresh weaned grizzly facing the approach of winter for the first time with out his mother. Just like his mother those years previous he seemed indifferent to my presence but as fall progressed I viewed him often, as he seemed to hang in the valley our camp was located in. I never told anyone and hoped no one would discover his presence, as I knew it would mean his death and for some reason I felt we shared some sort of friendship or maybe at least a mutual attachment to a place in time, so we shared each others secret.

Why had that silly old sow weaned and left that gangly cub alone and so close to our home. True the mountain we were on is remote but there were other drainages close by more remote and that old sow claimed a large territory. In those days she was the only known grizzly for miles and even then she was clever and few knew of her presence.

A couple months later on a weekend back ride of the country in late fall I made some lame excuse to ride alone up a ridge behind camp and as I neared the crest I cut a track. A big bear track, it had to be her and she was not more than moments ahead of me. There are times when one senses being watched and this was one of those times so I followed her track carefully to a point on the ridge that overlooked a small valley on the backside of the ridge. And sure enough there was that black long geared cub happily mousing in the meadow hundreds of yards below me. I noticed by that sows tracks that she too had stood and watched unbeknown to the cub from the very spot I was now watching and observed his antics. It suddenly came to me we were not alone. She had always been there watching that cub and me all fall long, and what's more she had sensed some sort of safety or company in me for her offspring. Whether a human presence kept other bears away thus protecting this cub or maybe instinct unknown, led her to appraise and trust a lonely kid. I guess I will never know but I do know there was something quite peaceful and satisfying realizing I had spent a fall being company for and helping a lonesome cub adjust to a solitary life.

How long does a bear live? What knowledge does nature hold that we men with all our intelligence somehow overlook? Does this story sound too much like a Disney story?

Perhaps; but this late summer, this fall, I went back to that ridge as that remote spot on that remote mountain holds a grip on me. And though I have long since moved and live on other ranges this was only the third time in close to thirty years that I have been horseback on that ridge in the fall. I saw a track, and at the same time the young horse I was riding came to an abrupt stop. Not twenty yards on the trail ahead of me he stood watching my movements. It was the cub.

He's, as I knew he would be. There are no tags in his ears or a radio collar around his neck. Though old he is still quite dark in color, and he has amassed a lot of silver guard hairs characteristic of his breed.

We shared for a while the autumn sights and smells and sounds together then I simply turned and rode away. From my last backward glance I noticed he had quit licking ants from a dirt mound in that small ridge top clearing and was watching me. I know it is simply human to presume this but I hope that bear remembers that fall we shared, and the unknown actions of his mother that kept two kids who were of age to be alone, from being lonely...and well I kind of like to take another leap of faith because of the lesson of life learned in our autumn together by two unlikely friends... I believe that he still knows me.

cbc (this ones for you JPS)

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