I am walking serenely along a path out Cherry Creek. It borders a farm; you can look out across cow pastures at all the green fields, trees, hillocks, to the rounded, hazy blue mountains in the distance.
The blackberries are just coming into fruition now, and I stop to pop the ripest ones in my mouth. I quickly learn to bypass all but the darkest, most inviting ones, the berries exposed to the most sunlight. Their warm, sun-softened sweetness pleases the palate like rich, dark blackberry wine.
A large mound of bear droppings full of undigested berries tells me another critter has discovered this berry patch, and recently.
I find myself musing about this hidden bear. Did they call berries "berries" because bears like them? Or bears "bears" because they eat berries? And how does such a large animal get his fill of such tiny goodies? Does he pluck them with his big paws, as we do ? Or does he run a whole branch through his teeth, the way a whale sifts the ocean's floor through its baleen, to capture crustaceans?
I once saw a bear sitting upright in a garbage dump, twisting the lid off a peanut butter jar. I once saw a bear on his hind legs, rocking a red compact car back and forth until its windows popped out, and he climbed in, after some food inside. All the while, the car's owner sat inside the old Wickanninish Inn, obliviously eating his lunch.
Once my uncle, carrying McGavins bread in his open convertible, was accosted by a bear on the Rogers Pass, stopped in a line of backed-up traffic. He tossed buns to the bear, hoping traffic would get moving before he ran out. Luckily, it did.
I should have brought a bucket. We could have had blackberry muffins tonight. This makes me wonder: after a bear has dined on berries, what does he do for dessert?