Posted on 7 Comments

My Uncle Bob’s Bear

travel Pennsylvania black bear

I know. I know. It’s misleading.

My Uncle Bob does not have a bear…at least, not a bear he owns.

But a bear does visit my Uncle Bob’s back yard, and therefore, he “has” a bear. Uncle Bob’s back yard is a clearing in the woods. Most of my family are rural Pennsylvanians, and black bears are part of the wildlife. It’s wonderfully surprising, however, how long the average person from our area can go without actually seeing a black bear. It can be decades, and then you suddenly see three (or the same one three times) in a given year.

My in-laws also have a bear. Several, actually. A yearly challenger to my father-in-law, the bear sneaks out from hibernation earlier and earlier, trying to get into the bird feeder before it’s taken down and put away in the springtime. This crazy bear is crafty, too. It has figured out where birdseed is stored, and mauled trash cans as well.

Last year, it brought a couple cubs to introduce to birdseed. Kurt’s parents arrived home to their little 5-acre plot in the woods to find a couple cubs climbing the pergola. They had to wait in the car until mama bear had shuffled the youngsters off again.

travel Pennsylvania black bear
Uncle Bob’s bear: A small black bear eating suet from a bird feeder in his backyard in Pennsylvania (c) 2014 Robert Sink

Occasionally we receive a text from them of bear tracks in the snow, and a mock-ominous message about the bird feeder being very afraid. It’s entertaining, because when you live in the woods, this is just what happens.

There are no bears in Africa.

In winter here, the security at our estate and the car guards at the local shopping mall call me Polar Bear. It is, I’m sure, because I’m big and white, and so thick-skinned that I rarely wear anything but sleeveless muscle shirts no matter the temperature.

But there are no real bears in Africa, and I think there is a bit of bear-envy.

Sadly there were once bears in Africa. In Northern Africa they had a bear named the Atlas Bear, for the Atlas Mountains it lived in. They were hunted to death. No more African bears.

Maybe they miss their bears. After all, they weirdly call an aardvark, or anteater, an antbear. I find nothing bear-like about the antbear. If they wanted an African bear so badly, I think they should have renamed the honeybadger. They could have named it honeybear, and then later Pooh Bear, to belie just how non-cuddly the honeybadger is. But antbear just doesn’t work for me.

In any case, I call shenanigans. Africa gets elephants and lion, cheetah and leopard and any number of animals we can only see in a zoo. They do not also get a bear, no matter how slyly nicknamed. America gets her bears. 😉

Maybe if they really want a bear, they can fly to my in-laws and have one of theirs. After all, there’s just never enough birdseed to go around.

Love, Marla P.S.

Traveling Marla has never heard an African actually express bear envy, and she’s pretty sure they’re quite content with their own wildlife, but thought it would be fun to use this post to stir the honey pot.