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Saturday 13 Jul 2024

A Big Bad Bruin
AJ Robinson

When I was a child, my parents had many home movies. For those of you of the internet generation, those were actual canisters of film you had to thread through a projector and show on a screen, probably a white bed sheet, which you set up in a room. Most of the movies were of the family: Boy Scout camping trips, summers in the cabin in Essex, Christmas Day and so on.

>Running those old movies backwards was fun.

We also had some expertly made shorts, such as an abbreviated version of the original The Mummy, starring Boris Karloff, and a cute comedy focused on three naughty little bear cubs, The Three Bad Bruins, a natural for someone from Boston. They get into a kitchen and make a mess. For me, the most fun was when we’d run the movie in reverse and then the cubs would clean up the place.

As we’re all in lockdown mode, we’re facing the same issue with animals as are many other areas of the world. Today, in our neighbourhood, we have a bear. Just one, but he or she is a handful.  

With the absence of people on the streets, nature is making inroads all over the place. You’ve probably seen the reports of dolphins in the canals of Venice, goats in villages, lions sleeping on highways, bloated politicians lazing on closed beaches and so forth. Here in Central Florida, we have alligators and bears.

Fortunately, in our neighborhood, we are only dealing with one bear or so it seems. A couple weeks back, right around the time I started working from home, we came out one morning to find our trashcan trashed. It wasn’t too much of a mess, so I just cleaned it up and it quickly became clear that a bear was responsible; the teeth marks on the empty iced tea bottle were quite clear.

The rage of a bear denied spaghetti sauce.

After that, our animal settled down and our went unmolested for a while. Then, just a couple days ago, it happened again, only worse. The trashcan upended; an entire bag of trash strewn across the yard of our neighbour.

It fell to me to get a new bag and re-bag it. Standing there, collecting the items, I got a feel for the tastes of our bear. He loved meat, which was no surprise; he doesn’t care for Chinese, and found spaghetti sauce my wife, Jo, makes particularly yummy, as my family does.

Once the cleanup completed, it was time to act. We were not going through this again. During one of our supply runs to the store, we picked up some bungee cords; I now was able to secure the trashcan to our bike rack and keep the top in place.

Then, this Monday morning, trash pick up time, I felt a surge of satisfaction to see our can still upright at the end of our driveway, its top tightly in position. Then I took my morning walk. I got a surprise.

It seemed my efforts might have angered the bear, not a good thing. You see, once denied access to our can and, I assume, the spaghetti sauce he’d grown fond of, he went on a bit of a rampage. He’d torn into half a dozen trashcans along the street.

As I strolled along, exchanging greetings with my neighbours as they cleaned up their messes, I couldn’t help but shake my head in disbelief. I knew the bear was bold, but this was downright amazing.

Yet, I could understand it. This was what was going on around the world. With people squirreled away inside, nature was retaking the outside.

I had to wonder where this was going to lead. The bear is a wild animal. We don’t want it hurt, but we must stay safe.

Latent effects of the pandemic.

If the bear keeps coming around, the community is going to demand action. Fortunately, there are agencies that can safely catch the bear and move him. Will it come to that? We’ll just have to wait and see. This is yet another aspect of the pandemic for us to deal with.

Combining the gimlet-eye of Philip Roth with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Working, again, as an engineeer, after years out of the field due to 2009 recession and slow recovery, Robinson finds time to write. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true. His teen vampire adventure novel, "Vampire Vendetta," will publish in 2020. Robinson continues to write books, screenplays and teleplays and keeps hoping for that big break.

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