Long day Saturday working on our yard, driveway and other projects. Amy sacked out for a nap while I eased into our hot tub on the back porch to let the pulsating water ease the aches and pains.
One corner in our hot tub is called a “rumble seat” with extra jets to pound the back and a collar that sends pulses of water on your neck and shoulders. It faces the woods that close in on the rear of our home and the floodlights that illuminate our back yard provided a serene view. As the water soothed my aching muscles, I closed my eyes and relaxed.
Then a loud snort jolted my eyes open and I found myself stating into the curious eyes of a fully-grown black bear standing on its hind legs less than six feet away and just beyond the screen of our porch.
Somewhere in the recesses of my water soaked brain emerged the warning: “Stay perfectly still!” I didn’t move but the water swirling around me did. The tub’s water, set on full agitation, obviously had the bear’s attention.
The bear continued to regard me and the water as I pondered options. If our curious visitor decided to join me in the hot tub I might be able to scramble out and make it to the door leading into the house. My anti-bear defense system, a Henry “big boy” 44-magnum rifle, sat inside the house, too far away for easy retrieval but available if the curious animal decided to follow me.
The bear’s eyes shone in the light and I could see its eyes following the swirl of the water in the tub. Would this bear confuse our hot tub with a steam of rapids and start hunting for salmon? Wait. Wrong part of the country and wrong species of bear. Still, I’d photographed black bear hunting fish in the waters of the Little River.
I’m not sure how long we stared at each other. Finally, the bear dropped down on all fours and ambled off into the woods. I waited a few minutes to make sure it was, indeed, gone and then scrambled out of the tub and into the house. It took a few minutes for my heart rate and breathing to return to normal.
As I sat, still soaking wet, Amy wandered into the kitchen.
“Oh,” she said. “You hit the hot tub. That must have been relaxing.”