Yesterday, my partner and I went for a walk along the McCloud River. It was the first time in my life that I had seen a black bear on a trail. Let me be more clear – the bear was on the same trail that I was on. Yikes!
It was about 50 to 75 feet away as its huge furry body ran off, probably startled by our feet noisily crunching dry pinecones so bears would hear us coming. My heart was pounding quickly, and all of my nervousness and fear of hiking in bear country quickly surfaced.
The day before, when I rode my bike past the Mt. Shasta High School with its giant bears painted on the side of the building (the football team is the Bears), I wondered to myself “what do I do if I see a bear up close in the woods?” I intended to look online when I got home so I would be properly prepared.
However, I never did look online. So we carried on, in the same direction of the bear, singing and intentionally stepping on pinecones. And that was that. It was an adventure.
A question I didn’t ask myself the day before was “what would I do if I see a skink up close in the woods?” I hadn’t looked this one up online either.
As we sat eating lunch by the river, the answers came naturally:
Be in awe. Marvel at it. Smile big smiles and feel like the luckiest person alive. That is what to do when you see a creature you never knew existed. Let it grace you with its presence.
A skink is a lizard with an ELECTRIC BLUE tail. (Here’s a photo I found online at http://www.californiaherps.com). It is truly amazing. It’s a shade of blue that you might wear to disco night. And there it is, on the lizard’s tail, as if dipped in paint. Very cool.
We watched the skink slither around the rocks, then go out of sight. We waited quietly, and there it was again. We were thrilled to be able to see it almost a dozen times.
But the question remains: what do you do if you see a bear in the woods?
Well, if you are fortunate enough to see one, and it poses no threat to you (because you pose no threat to it), you have some choices. You can continue to hike, consumed by fear and worry. You can think of all the awful things that the bear might have done to you in different circumstances. OR . . .
. . . You can be in awe. Marvel at it. Smile big smiles and feel like the luckiest person alive. Today, this is what I’m choosing. Thank you, universe, for all of your surprises.