The Bear In The Woods

This is Sheriff Peanut Butter Brickle. There are warnings about a lot of things when you travel. Watch out for rattlesnakes in the desert.

Don’t turn your back to the ocean in California.

Don’t jump in a lake with the alligators in Florida.

Also. Don’t go outside at all in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee because apparently a bear will be waiting to get you.

He may try to drive your car. Or steal your campchair. He might make you take him to the grocery store. Yes. Yes. Don’t mess with the bears. Be afraid. That’s a warning.

At least, that’s how we felt. So many persons told us to be aware of bears. And well. We kinda didn’t take them very seriously. We knew not to go on the hiking trails in the National Park because they tell you that dogs can only go on two trails. So we were being good about that. I’m the Sheriff. I have to follow the rules, you know.

So we decided to walk on a nice, pretty road in the National Park. Dogs are allowed on roads and picnic areas. So we were really enjoying our day.

Boy Person was at home doing work stuff. Supposedly.

And Girl Person decided we were going to walk extra far.

You see, we wanted to eat more for breakfast. We walked and we walked and we walked. The river was flowing, the sun was out and the birds were singing. Oh, it was a glorious day for all. Even the bears.

As we were walking, I saw him first. A happy lad of a bear. Frolicking and being a bear on a beautiful day. Digby had his nose to the ground and I knew not to alert him. We didn’t need for his howling to startle the bear. I was also hoping that Girl Person wouldn’t see him and get scared. But it was too late for it all. Girl Person saw the bear. The bear saw us.

Now. You may think that Girl Person would have wanted to take a picture of the bear before we started running. But let me ask you this. Have you ever went to someone’s home, scared them, took a picture and ran? I doubt it. And if you have, you. Are. Arrested.

You see, the woods is where bears call home. We are visitors. And so the best thing to do is not run. If you are a person, talk to the bear and identify yourself as a human. Stand your ground. Wave your arms. Do not run. Bears can outrun and out climb everyone reading this.

What happened when the bear saw us? Girl Person realized it was a baby bear. Which meant there was a momma bear close by too. The bear looked at us and took off up the hill. We kept walking. Slowly. Sideways. That’s how you do it.

Were we scared? We were. But it was a respectful feeling. Yes. There are animals and things we have to be careful of. We have to be prepared and realize we are in their home. It is not ours. We are not better than they are. Or more important. We don’t have a “right” to do what we want where we want when we are guests.

We may have only known the bear in the woods for a little while. But what he left us was a lasting impression. You never know what’s out there…be prepared.

And when you do see someone as beautiful and precious as a bear, or a rattlesnake or an alligator, remember them for who they are. An individual that makes our earth a mosaic of diversity and strength and mystery. Like me.

Sheriff Peanut Butter Brickle

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The Little Bear’s Picnic

This is Sheriff Peanut Butter Brickle.  You know, they say that everyone is from somewhere. Even a bear. They also say that bears don’t take peanut butter cookies and try to hide those cookies from you on a picnic that you were not invited to.  But “they” would be wrong.  Let me tell you the story of a little bear and his picnic in the Virginia woods.

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Once upon a time, we were hiking in the woods of this Virginia place. We climbed and climbed all of the hills until we reached the top of one of the tallest hills. It was one of the greenest hills. It was one of the most lonesome, benchiest hills with a lone bench for one butt or two small ones.

We were able to look down and see for miles. Deputy Digby Pancake’s little legs were already shaking from the exertion, and he was shaking them even more to request a bit of nourishment from our hike in the form of pancakes.

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I knew that at the end of the hike, Girl Person had promised me some fresh baked peanut butter cookies. And well, I was saving my appetite for those cookies. This physique that I have doesn’t come easy.

As Deputy Digby had his pancake snack, and I had my low-carb option, we surveyed the path down the hillside. I was eager to go and get my cookie reward. So I put my butt into gear. But then we were stopped in our tracks.

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There was a sign that warned of bears. And as a sign reader, I took this seriously. You see, when you are a visitor in the woods, you follow the house rules. I knew to stay on a leash. I knew not to throw food at him. But now Girl Person was a little worried. Should we even be carrying food in our backpack? What. About. Those. Peanut butter cookies.

Girl Person looked at me, and the Deputy looked at us with a full belly of pancakes. This was an emergency. We had to put the cookies where they could not be found by a bear. In our bellies.

Now, as law enforcement, I am not one to argue with emergency orders. I give them, I bark them out. And we had to eat these cookies fast. And fast we did. Girl Person said that in the time of an emergency, you gotta do what you gotta do. And we did. But we ate so fast and tried to get out of there so fast that protocol failed. As I looked back at the benchy bench and the vista view, I saw it there. One lone peanut butter cookie that had been dropped.

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No matter how I tried to convince Girl Person to turn around, she ignored me and kept telling us that we had to get home. Well, I finally gave up as Deputy Digby pulled us down the hillside, and I could only look back longingly one more time at the cookie lost. The cookie never meant to be. The cookie of all cookies that could have been the best cookie I had ever had. And it was left. For the bear. I knew it.

Now, if you have ever been sad at love lost, or love not returned, you know how I felt about that cookie. But it was not meant to be. And the day went on. The afternoon went by. I tried to sleep it off. And yet, I could not forget about that cookie. The bear’s cookie.

Time went on as it does, and when we got up, Girl Person told us that we were going on a new hike. We got in the car, and as we drove down the road, we saw him. We saw his butt…big because of eating. That. Peanut butter cookie. He turned around, saw us, and as he ran and Girl Person stopped to watch him, I knew where he was going. Oh, I knew where he was going. He had saved that peanut butter cookie just until he saw us. He had packed himself a picnic. And he was off! His little butt that would not have fit on that benchy bench was out of there, and he was gone! Gone to have his picnic without us.

If you would have looked at Deputy Digby, you would have seen the look of fear in his eyes. Because for Digby, a picnic without a pancake is just not acceptable by any means. He is afraid of anything without a pancake. And a bear picnic wasn’t important to him. In fact, he thought a picnic like this would simply make his breakfast late.  And I was left with the knowledge, all alone, that the little bear with a big, peanut butter cookie appetite was off to his picnic in the woods without me.

If you have ever been in love with even a cookie, and no one else knows your pain about it, well you knew how I felt.  I could only picture him with his picnic blanket, a jar of honey, and a peanut butter cookie for dessert that day.  I knew he would be licking his bear lips and smacking his bear tongue, just savoring that cookie.  And I made it my goal to one day find that bear. In my dreams.  Because I was going to heed that sign as law enforcement to leave the bears alone.  Even if they had my cookie in their belly. Which we should not have dropped in the first place.

So little bear with a bigger butt than yesterday?  I hope that your picnic in the woods was made better with my cookie.  I also hope that you don’t come looking for more.

Maybe in life, we can’t have a picnic every day like the little bear.  But if we appreciate even the things like one peanut butter cookie when we find it, how much more sweeter would life be?  If someone tells you that you don’t have time for that picnic in life, run like that little bear ran into the woods with my cookie.  And enjoy it.

Now. I am not one to hold grudges. Only cookies.  So meet my new friend Cookie from the park.  I have a feeling we are going to have many picnics of our own. Together. And he can’t eat many cookies.

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-Sheriff Peanut Butter Brickle

We are headed out to see more of the Blue Ridge Parkway! Stay tuned!

We want to give a special thanks to the wonderful people at The Wildlife Center of Virginia for all they do!  Find out more about them here!