The Bear

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The road is empty, straight, the peaks of the Rockies crowning the road ahead. It is early morning and the shadows are long. The bear appears on the left and lumbers across the highway, two hundred yards ahead, glances once towards us, but continues on his way. I pull over, crawl beside the guard rail, and then we spot him: he has crossed the deep ditch beside the road and is climbing, foraging on the grassy hillside. I am drawn to him by a force beyond reason, elemental, and something new stirs within me, asking for a space to grow; it feels like love, but with no particular destination, and is carried on the air with the scent of juniper.

Today is National Indigenous People’s day in Canada, also the summer solstice, and I read that according to indigenous beliefs, if we cross paths with a bear we should take the time to envelope ourselves in solitude and silence for a spell, with a view to better understanding stuff. I’d say that’s not such a bad idea at any time. When the world has gone crazy, something as simple as meeting a bear can bring a sense of perspective, if only for a short while.

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