As we get better at keeping our garbage separate from bears, there are less stories of bear sightings at the dump. But, it used to be the place to see bears. Amy Stuart has such a bear story from her childhood.
First, by way of introduction: Amy Stuart’s writing has appeared in Exile Quarterly, the Vanderbilt CVC Anthology, Freefall Magazine and the Globe and Mail. She won the 2011 Writers’ Union of Canada Short Fiction Competition and was a finalist for the 2012 Vanderbilt/Exile Award. Amy recently completed her MFA in Creative Writing through UBC. Currently finishing her first novel, she teaches English at an alternative high school.
I am pleased to bring you Amy’s bear story:
“The summer I was ten my parents rented a cottage with friends on Lake Como near Chapleau, Ontario. The adults spoke of the area as the Bear Capital of Canada and traded jokes about leaving meat scraps in each others’ cars with the windows rolled down.
Early in the week my dad took his friend’s daughter and me to the dump. We had a wood paneled station wagon and were allowed to ride in the back with the rear window flapped up.
The dump was a clearing with a crater, and from where my dad parked you couldn’t see the bottom. He instructed to take a garbage bag each and go toss it.
We lugged the bags to within six feet of the edge. My dad was hollering at us from the driver’s seat: Not too close. The stench burned and there were so many flies so we sidled up and heaved the bags on the count of three.
When they hit the bottom we heard the rustling and I looked down for the first time. Three black bears were scrambling to climb out of the crater. Two cubs and an adult I assume was their mother. The first cub made it out and glanced at us, and then we were running.
I remember squealing, thinking it was sort of funny and exciting, half-stumbling. Then I looked to the car and saw the expression on my dad’s face. On the drive home he was too quiet, but back at the cottage, any notion of danger was removed in the retelling.
After that we made daily trips back to the dump with a trunk full of kids. My dad would heave something into the crater from a distance and we’d all watch from the safety of the wagon as the bears appeared along the ledge.”
I love a story about a dad trying to play it cool, thank you Amy. If you have a bear story from the dump or otherwise, please get in touch.