While cycling toward the Montana/Idaho border, I hear a rustling in the reeds. I look to my right and just a few feet away is a black bear who, seeing me, lets out on deep snarl/growl. Yikes! I proceeded to not follow any proper bear protocol (stay calm, back up slowly, don’t run) and made an adrenalin-fueled sprint down the road. The problem was the road was uphill. While pedaling as fast as I could, I lose sight of the bear but continue to hear the rustling as if the bear was following me. Up ahead there was a sign that said ‘grade 10%.’ Phew! I make it to the top of the hill and ride the downhill grade to safety (and to Idaho).
The low growl of that bear stayed with me all day. The depth and projection of the sound matched the bear’s stocky, large body. Bears are smart as hell – their intelligence compares with that of higher primates (pbs.org 2008). I wonder what was going through that bear’s mind… she was probably foraging for huckleberries and was just as startled by me as I was by her. In any case, it was humbling to experience such a powerful mammal that could potentially do some serious harm to a human. Perhaps that’s what a monarch experiences when a wasp or peckish bird flies by. Monarcas, quídense — we’re not the highest of the food chain around these parts.
At the bottom of the hill, I plant some seeds at this strange rock quarry filled with rusted out antique cars. Quarry workers are moving gravel and rock with huge trucks. The low engine sounds kind of felt like an echo of the bear’s growl (in my mind). Anyway, I was attracted to this spot because it reveals a highly modified and damaged landscape. I like to think that sowing seeds here gives this place a chance at being a site of resurgence within ruins. Ánimo, algodoncillo.