Life in a slow place that quickly steals your heart.



I live in bear country, I live in wine country

Why is this bear all wet? To be revealed.

A late summer evening on our Naramata, British Columbia deck turned into a two bottles of wine, three-hour bear show and some things that you had to see to believe.

A medium-sized black bear, a three-year-old (neighbourhood regular) claws his way up a 40-foot pine making a hell of a racket. He has my attention. A few minutes later it becomes obvious that a much bigger black bear was the cause of his scramble. So now there are two bears up in the tree.

The vineyard owner from our neighbouring property comes by to explain his theory that it’s a battle over territory…namely his beleaguered vineyard that is now stripped of grapes with half his irrigation system in pieces. The vineyard’s name…. Bad Bear Vineyard. Can’t make this stuff up.

During the three-hours, the bigger bear would close the gap between them and give the smaller guy what for.

A bear fight in a very tall tree must be accomplished carefully with claws firmly clinging to the tree and it is very noisy.

Fight night!

In between battles the bears would rest and make themselves as comfortable as possible among the branches.

The smaller guy further up the tree would occasionally break off branches and drop them on his rival. This is the part that starts to be, “I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it.”

Check out my fur.

The uppermost bear peed on the lower bear. It was full-on, like out of a fire hose. The big guy looked up to see what was going on and pretty much ignored it being a bear and not overly concerned with hygiene. Although, a few minutes later it did wake him up and spark a new battle, so anthropomorphasizing, maybe it did piss him off.

During a break in the action, the little guy almost looks like he is playing around.

Just about out of wine, the fight ended when it began to get dark. The bigger bear clumsily scrabbled his way down the tree while I much more lithely ran for the house. A few minutes later the weaponized smaller bear made his way down and sauntered off.

“The best of Vintage Erotica” or a weird segue to bears in my yard


Of the terms in my header…”vintage” is by far the most disturbing. I wrote my university thesis about Marian Engel and her novel, Bear, which is now mouldering in some unforgotten corner of the Mount Allison University library. Vintage? Really?

Engel’s Bear, is outwardly a novel about a sexual relationship a woman has with a bear told in a pretty explicit way. Inwardly, according to my brilliant thesis, it’s about a recurring Canadian literature theme of our complex relationship with nature. Like all Canadians, when we get a bit messed up in our heads,  we find some wilderness to sort out who really are and what matters the most.

The novel won the Governor General Award in 1976 and then sort of fell into obscurity. Along comes 50 Shades of Grey and voila, Bear is re-discovered and an imgur post about it went viral.

A blog reader sent me this link to a series of Bear covers re-imagined. I love this one by Kris Mukai…


By moving to Naramata I’m living that quintessential Canadian literature dream that began somewhere around 1852 with Susanna Moodie’s Roughing it in the Bush. I’ve found the nature I’ve always craved and in a full-circle, coincidental,  ‘wee de wee de’ way, a ton of bears in the process, none of which I have gone near enough to touch let alone…

Our property is in the middle of a well-travelled bear super highway. On one side is a large treed acreage and on the other a creek that brings them down from higher country to look for food in late summer and fall.

Here is a small selection of the many photos I’ve taken in our yard.

This guy was pretty big


Mum climbed a tree to coax her cubs down when they got too scared


We saw this guy with the burrs almost every day last fall on our wildlife cam


I was talking on the phone on the deck when I felt eyes burning into the back of my head.

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