Aki and I are walking along the edge of the Troll Woods. Mosquitoes buzz around us but can’t land if we keep moving. I pay for each photograph with a bug bite. Aki doesn’t seem to be bothered by the mossies.
When the little dog stops to sniff some pee mail I spot a line of tracks recently made in a muddy ditch. Stopping long enough to learn that a bear left them, I let a mosquito nip the back of my right thumb. It is a small price for priming my imagination with the image of a two hundred pound black bear waddling along in the mud. It could easily have chosen the firmer trail that the little dog and I are using to get back to the car.
Did the bear, which never has to worry about tracking mud onto a recently cleaned kitchen floor, chose to walk in the ditch just so it could feel mud oozing up between its paw pads? Given their size and power, it is hard to think of bears as more than scary eating machines. The one that just left here with muddy paws is also a bit of a hedonist.
Bears share other things in common with humans like the ability to have fun. Several springs ago, Aki and I watched a sow and her two cubs slide down a snow covered mountain meadow, climb back up and slide down again. The mom eventually stretched out on a rock in the sun while her kids continued to play in the snow.