Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Bear break-in: High Chaparral in Montana receives a surprising guest


Once inside, our bear searched for an exit and shredded bamboo blinds, and broke pottery, leaving paw prints galore.  
A buttery paw print tells the story.  Mr. Bear ate lightly,
but was anything but dainty in his exit. It is eerily

human-like, a la "Day of the Living Dead."


WE'D BEEN GONE just 50 hours from our home in rural Montana.
High Chaparral has been a family sanctuary for nearly a quarter-century.
Our guest scaled the countertop above the dishwasher,
pulled down the knives, broke a butter dish and
licked it clean.  He opened a few cupboards, too.
We've had raccoons, mountain lions, lynx, elk, the proverbial deer and antelope, and of course plenty of mice, squirrels, voles, moles and skunks. (Nick, the male Yorkie, has been "deskunked" almost as many times as he's been taken to the groomer.)
The 1881 Log Room was the scene of the most damage,
and the place of entry. Vintage photos were ripped from the
walls, glass shattered and paw scratches on hand-colored prints.
HAD WE BEEN at home when our bear (or bears) visited, Nick and Nora would would likely have frightened him (them) away with their sharp, terrier warning barks.
Now please don't accuse me of gender bias, but I'm going to call the intruder(s) Mr. Bear, to simplify the telling of the story.
WE PULLED into the drive-way, and I trotted up the hill, as is my custom, to change the hoses, leaving Keller to unlock the place and unload groceries, our usual division of labor.
"Cooks, come here," he hollered.
 "Can it wait?" I asked.
"No. Pronto."
"Are you alright?  Are the Yorkies okay?"
"Yes, but we've had a visitor."
After a melt-down from the destruction in the log room -- I picked myself up, dusted myself off,  guzzled the wine Keller poured, and started a list of damages and loss: the craziest, a cube of butter.
I CALLED 911 (only the third time I've done so in my life -- the other two were medical emergencies for my two late husbands.) Two deputies were dispatched and arrived from the Absarokee area, 28 miles away, in a speedy 25 minutes. Before they pulled into the drive, we called our insurance company and reported the incident, still not sure if it were really and truly a bear, as Keller speculated.
Gouge marks from Mr. Bear's talons.  There are dozens.
While the police investigated, we continued our list of damages: photographs, curtains, picture frames, walls, canvases of oils, a treasured lamp, several lamp shades flattened when Mr. Bear must have stepped on them. The woodwork damage is the greatest.  All three of the rooms Mr. Bear intruded bear his bear trademark: gouges, claw marks, ripped off door casings and trim -- accented with the buttery prints he left on windows.
Here's where  Mr. Bear broke in. 
WHEN THE law officers finished their investigation, they confirmed Keller's suspicions:  bear or bears, probably young (two or three years) and neophytes in break-in.  Mr. Bear did not go upstairs (thank goodness, no one was sleeping in our bed!), nor did he leave bear scat.  He did urinate on the beautiful carpets, in several places -- the Yorkies were fascinated by that.
Do we wish ill for Mr. Bear and his species?  Absolutely not.  He was being a bear. Period.
As Keller said, "We're unhurt.  The Yorkies are fine. Perspective, Cookie."
And as my sister Olivia and my friend Ruth said, "It's a helluva story, Cookie."

NEXT UP:  Where is Cookie takes to CityPASS in New York, grabbing all the gusto possible in five short days.  CityPASS offers savings for the major sites, including the new World Trade Center Tower, Ellis Island, the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, Metropolitan Museum and more.  Start spreading the news and take a breathtaking look with us at the Manhattan skyline -- and more. Remember to explore, learn and live, and catch us each Wednesday at www.whereiscookie.com 

1 comment:

  1. My goodness, a real live bear story.
    We are city dwellers (Tampa and St. Paul) and have seen bears in many states but this remarkable story caught our eye on a late fall trip through Yellowstone. Amazing. Glad the owners are fine, but what a mess the bear(s) made. Great read, though, and stunning photos -- especially the "butter paw."