Bob Spiwak Monkey MazamaBy Bob Spiwak

When there are discussions herein about, or emanating from the SLIME (Society of Lugubrious Indolent Mazama Entrepreneurs) group at morning coffee, there are many disparate topics that come up. At times there are several simultaneously: a couple of people may be discussing recipes for the barbecue, or restaurants, or what size coil springs are best for a certain vehicle.

This past Monday morning there was a single discussion among five of us that dominated the palaver, brought about by a question to sometimes-attendee Geoff Gode. This is about a story I had earlier heard both third- and fourth-hand involving Gode being attacked by a cinnamon-colored black bear. Gode guesstimated the bruin must have weighed close to 150 pounds.

According to Gode, when he hiked the entire Pacific Crest Trail a summer or two ago, care of his food was of top priority — one might say a compulsive attention to saving his life.

After returning home to his parents’ property in Mazama he got careless, by his own admission. He built a wooden lean-to shelter, made a bed and lived in the outdoors, in far greater comfort than he’d experienced on the long trail hike. Thus, a lot of the food was out in the open, like a container of honey, along with the barbecue cooker. Attracted to these and other comestibles was a small bear, larger than a cub, which Gode chased away. This happened on several occasions.

On a succeeding night, sometime about 1 a.m. or 2 a.m., Gode was awakened by a crash outside the shelter. The cooker had been overturned and there was a larger bear licking at the grate. Gode chased it, but the next night it was back, this time having removed the cooker’s grate and slurping the residue in the pan.

If you read the many articles about how to deal with a black bear, there is a constant thread that advises one to be calm, look large and shout “go away bear!” This bear, having not read the articles, advanced toward Gode, who was next to some wooden stakes. After the intruder paid no attention to Geoff’s warnings and kept coming (all this happening in seconds), Gode threw a stake and hit the bear, which retreated a few feet and clawed at the ground. Then it did an about-face and rapidly advanced toward the annoying human.

“He was about from me to you [10 feet or so],” Gode said, so he threw another stake, hitting the bear above the nose. This seems to have discouraged Mr. Bruin, who did another about-face and left.

Jeff has since gotten a shotgun, not to kill the bear but to discourage it if it shows up again, which it apparently has not. Gode is also being a lot more fastidious with his food. As he departed this morning he added, “I am going to get a $50 can of bear spray — you know, the good stuff.”

After he was gone the conversation turned to several stories of bear attacks in Alaska.

And speaking of wildlife, one member of the group told of finding a tick burrowed into his underarm the other day. He pulled it out intact with tweezers, something the experts say ought not be attempted.

And now that Memorial Day has passed, do enjoy your summer.