Remember back in grade school when your teacher wanted to show you how a rumor spreads? You’d sit in a line and the teacher would whisper something to the first person who would whisper something to the second, and so on until you got to the end. By then the poor soul unlucky enough to grab that last seat would only have a patchwork of nonsense to repeat out loud to the teacher.
Neighborhood email groups can be a good thing, but they can also go the way of that grade school rumor line, especially when the email is about bears and my wife is involved. “Oh my God, we have bears!” Alex shouted from the other room one day. I grabbed a hockey stick—like that would help—and ran into the room to see what she was so excited about.
Indeed there were bears sighted in our community, but they were not at our door. They had apparently come down from the North Georgia mountain area some miles north. We are in a leafy suburb of Atlanta called Roswell, so this was news…. Just a little exaggerated.
“A bear attacked someone and knocked their teeth out!” Alex reported next. The man claimed he was face-to-face with the giant bear, but there was little proof. Turns out he fell and knocked his own teeth out. I know if I saw a bear, even at the end of my driveway as I stepped out the front door, I’d probably turn and fall and knock my own teeth out too.
We had weathered the occasional snake, the coyotes, the mini scorpions, and the squirrel that wanted to move in, but this was different. There were numerous reports on the neighborhood internet vine, but not too many pictures. People were on edge. Alex was afraid to go out to get the mail. “Take a hockey stick,” I offered. “Not funny,” she said.
I looked up some bear facts, and found out that these guys were probably black bears, probably not much bigger than a large dog, and less prone to chase you than a large dog would be. I even showed Alex a picture of some cubs in a tree. “So cute!” she said. But reading further I noted, “Cute until you accidently get in between them and their mother.”
The next day Alex took a courageous breath and said, “I’m going to get the mail.” “That’s the spirit,” I said “don’t let a little bear family scare you from walking out your own front door.” “Did you say family?” she asked. “Okay, where’s that hockey stick again? I might need your helmet too, maybe the gloves… hell, just suit me up!”