Do you have a happy place?
I can think of lots of happy places. You might be surprised how many of them involve bears. One particular meadow comes to mind.
One sunny June day, we found a mama grizzly and her three large cubs. They had found a patch of thick spring grass liberally sprinkled with dandelions and quickly made it a happy eating place. They were mowing through the grass pretty good and just inhaling dandelions – the original happy meal. Though I must confess, I still find it odd to see these impressive bears gorging on salads. Where’s the meat?
I watched transfixed as they wandered around, ate and generally acted like bears. This was no ordinary bear, assuming there is such a thing. It was bear 64, aptly named for her earring, or more accurately, a prominent yellow tag. She is the matriarch of the Bow Valley in Banff National Park after giving birth to multiple litters over more than twenty years.
Bear 64 successfully learned to navigate the roads, rail lines and sometimes busy areas of the Bow Valley Parkway. It’s a dangerous place that killed her last two cubs after they went on their own – one by a train and the other by a vehicle. It’s possible she chooses to stay in the area to reduce the potential danger to her cubs from male grizzlies who tend to stay further away from human activity. Bear 64 continues to not only survive but thrive.
There are dangers everywhere even for a large grizzly but on that day the bear world was in perfect order and so was mine. These large cubs might be on their own by now. Hopefully they will learn to thrive like their mother and make happy places for themselves and people like me.
Krahnpix note: I found an interesting article on the philosophy of photographing bears in national parks.