on the prowl

Climate change is disrupting the foraging patterns of the bears, and they prowl in ever-broadening areas in their search for food. 

They are bold, shameless, single-minded. We find them in our kitchens, drinking water from the dog’s bowl.

Years ago, our house was broken into. Not by bears, presumably, but by people on the prowl. Our dresser drawers had been emptied on to the the bedroom floor, where their contents looked garish and senseless - a muddle of pinks and reds and browns. 

They took their time, these robbers of ours. We traced the path of their efforts - from the bedroom (jewelry, that mostly had been my mother’s: a string of pearls, a gold locket, an opal ring, the stone cracked) down the hall to the hallway closet (guitar) to the living room (5-disc DVD player, new; a bunch of films on DVD - only the Criterion Collection, they left the blockbusters behind). We had very little of value in that house. We were young, had jobs that barely paid. But we were getting married, so we had our wedding rings: simple platinum bands we had just bought and tucked in the drawer of a table in the front hallway, unassuming in their blue velvet pouches. They found those, took them too.

I say “they” but I don’t know how many people prowled our house that day. There were two banana peels left on the kitchen counter. Our half blueberry pie, uncovered. The carton of orange juice, nearly empty. 

This was weeks after the attacks on the World Trade Center. We were all the walking wounded - dazed, fearful, searching.

I think of the black bears, confused by the droughts, by the heat. Dizzy with hunger. They find themselves in someone’s kitchen - all countertops and appliances. A half-eaten blueberry pie. 

It’s a mistake, we are told, to think of these bears as innocent, cartoonish, bumptious.

“Do not feed them cheeseburgers,” we are told, after people are seen outside a restaurant, offering them cheeseburgers from their hands. Or, for that matter, french fries. You are their food source. You. Not the happy meals you are feeding them from the drive-through.