* Antigonus in Winter’s Tale, Act III, Scene 3.
It is a standard hazard of life in Appalachia that, in mid-to-late April, Ursus Americanus, the native, killed-off-by-the-pioneers-but-returned-by-the-conservationists Black Bear wakes up hungry from his winter slumbers and embarks on a temporary annual reign of terror, leaving no bird feeders or garbage cans left outside safe.
It must have been a young, apprentice bear who showed up Tuesday night. He could not bend the pole reinforced-with-rebar that holds up two feeders, and he was also foiled by the sturdy pipe holding the much-bear-destroyed-and-then-always-repaired ancient red feeder that predates our 30-year ownership of the farm. He merely bent down the un-reinforced, limber pole, pushed open the bottom of the tall, tin feeder with his nose, and inhaled its sunflower seed contents.
He must have taken bear lessons before he returned Wednesday. The rebar-reinforced pole was bent. The pipe pole was pushed so hard that its cement base was tilted out of the ground, and a piece of board from the bottom of the old red feeder was artfully removed. Every single feeder was emptied.
All this criminal activity on Tuesday and Wednesday nights took place discreetly late at night after the humans and dogs had gone to bed.
Last night was different. Karen and I were sitting here, around 9:30, watching a movie on tv. The ten-month-old Taigan puppy was outside exploring. Suddenly, the door flew open, in came the puppy who ran all the way across the room to a position of comparative safety on the stairs at the far end of the room before he began barking.
This puppy has been notoriously unperturbable. Nothing has seemed to intimidate him previously. Certainly, not me. Not even his older brother, Uhlan, who once sent him to the vet for stitches.
So, I got up, took the loaded Model 629 from the bookcase by the door, stepped outside and applied a little .44-caliber fumigation to the general vicinity.
Amusingly, both dogs were still leery and looking around carefully last night and again this morning.
There was one small (mildly appalling) denouement. This morning the puppy was out running around for the second time, and after a bit came trotting down the slope from behind the cabin with something black in his mouth. “He’s playing with another black walnut from last fall.” I thought. But, no, he sat down, and I saw it was too large. He had found himself, and was dissecting and devouring, a black bear turd.