In the Shadow of the Night

THE BEARS ARE GONE

It’s hard to believe that when I first started this blog almost six years ago it was still possible to see Black bears on my property. They were never aggressive, but they were very curious and playful and I enjoyed watching them so much. Even then they were shot/maimed out of season.

Because it is spring, the time bears used to be hungry enough to overcome their fear in order to visit backyards to eat birdseed (unless they were curious yearlings who hadn’t learned to fear humans) I am going to publish some old photographs and poems of the few bears that once visited me. This one was written a few years ago when seeing bears was becoming so scarce. Below this poem are sobering excerpts from Eileen Crist about the situation we find ourselves in.

“Softly, calmly, immensity taps at your life.”

 

A furry

 shadow –

ever dimming vision –

did I imagine

him?

The woods

are needled –

 Bare twigs

 stick out,

pine spears 

behind Her. 

Mother Tree –

She who once

sheltered his kin.

 He thinks

rough elephantine

 arms will

provide

protection from

his greatest threat –

human depravity,

supremacy, born

of hubris and cruelty.

I cry out in desperation:

“I am not one of them”.

(this woman who loves bears)

He doesn’t know me.

He hides

behind ribbed bark

even at dusk

tasting the air nervously,

padding around

a can in circles

as if it might bite.

My scent is on it.

With one

clawed paw

 he separates

  cover

from metal can –

charges into wild brush

at the clatter.

His nose brings him

back.

Crackling boughs,

his continuous

 fear driven pacing

distract me.

One picture

comes out.

We have

made

I

contact,

eye contact,

and for one

timeless moment

 it sticks.

He feels

my longing.

Will it be enough?

I need him.

He doesn’t need me.

I am the enemy.

The few morsels

he swallows

won’t appease

the terrible hunger

he lives with –

He is starving

 for Sovereignty,

 freedom from Terror.

Humans have stolen

his country,

slaughtered the forests

he evolved with,

 depends on

for safety –

 Man torments,

turns his relatives,

kind dogs,

against him,

 gut shoots his kind

for fun –

projects Predator

onto a hapless

 Prey Animal.

Why would he

ever trust me?

And yet…

He saw me.

When I enlarged

 his picture

I glimpsed raw fright –

ebony beads

boring into my own.

Confusion.

A Question.

A Plea?

It reminded me

of Coal who 

might have been

his mother. 

 Oh Great Bear,

 let him stay

for a spell…

 He’ll be safe here

roaming over moss

covered paths.

  Lively young evergreens,

    crystal brooks,

and one old woman will be

his closest companions.

For Now.

When the Hunt begins

there’s no

Future

for any of us

because

his shrinking

world is also

our own.

We are losing

the Spirit of

the land

we love –

We know

the Embodied Soul

of the Earth

is dying.

Home.

What Extinction Really Means…

Excerpts:  Eileen Crist

“What’s happening during this ecological crisis is the collapse of the web of life: biological diversity, wildlife populations, wild ecologies. We’re in the midst of a mass-extinction event. It’s called the “sixth extinction,” because there have been five others in the last 540 million years. Mass extinctions are extremely rare. They’re monumental setbacks, not normal events. It takes 5 to 10 million years for life to recover from one…Non human species are going extinct primarily because the environment is changing so rapidly, so catastrophically, that they can’t adapt. If we keep going as we’re going, we will likely lose 50 percent or more of the planet’s species in this century…

And in addition to outright extinction, there are wholesale eliminations of local populations of plants and animals. The killing of wildlife is so profound that scientists have coined the term defaunation to capture it. We’re emptying out the planet. Big or small, herbivores or carnivores, marine or freshwater or terrestrial — it’s happening across the board. There’s a sad and facile view circulating that extinction is natural, so what does it matter if it’s human-caused? What this ignores is that the vast majority of species becoming extinct are robust, meaning they’re well adapted to their surroundings. These are healthy species experiencing overwhelming pressure from the human onslaught…When we drive a species to extinction, we’re prematurely taking out of existence a unique, amazing manifestation of life that has never existed before and will never arise again, and we’re extinguishing all possibilities of its evolution into new forms.”

 Black bears are only one example of an animal that is on its way to extinction.

Black bears are totally dependent upon trees/healthy forests in order to have adequate protection from predators. They co- evolved as a prey species approximately 12,000 years ago along with the forests that once covered the US. As the forests have been cut the bears have disappeared except in the few forested areas that are left. Black bears have been demonized by the hunting community. In reality they are shy, reticent, NERVOUS animals who huff, moan, and slap when approached by humans if they don’t run away first. They are terrified not only of humans but of dogs because they have been hunted with such cruelty.

As the logging machine’s maw devoured more trees, more and more of the land has been fragmented. Bears have neither adequate protection or enough food. Ironically, the three month bear hunting season continues even as these animals disappear. I used to say people wouldn’t be happy until every bear in Maine is extirpated. Well that time is upon us now… I

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