Black bear

The doorbell rang on Monday afternoon, and it was my next-door neighbour with his big shepherd dog on a short leash.

"A bear just passed through my yard," he said, gesturing toward the far side of his house. "It went between the houses there." Geoff is retired, and spends his days walking his dog and trimming the trees on his property. He was acting nonchalant, but I could tell this was the best thing to happen to him all summer. "Just wanted to let you know," he said. "I'll be off now to warn the other neighbours."

I looked from every window, but the bear was nowhere in sight. I settled back at my laptop. It was a gorgeous September afternoon. The sun was golden warm, a breeze wafted in from the water, and the neighbourhood was quiet. The idea of a bear ambling through our neck of the woods, snacking on berries, seemed perfectly natural.

Then I heard a siren. A police car sped up the road, letting out an urgent Whoop! Whoop! in front of each home. It disappeared over the crest of the hill in a cloud of testosterone.

But the bear lay low, and it's still roaming the area. It's inspired a sense of camaraderie among the neighbours. Everyone's exchanging stories: someone stumbled upon the bear in their garage, rooting around in the garbage; it's been peeping in windows; outdoor recess was canceled at the local high school when the bear ran across the playground; it's made several visits to a yard with a loaded apple tree. 

My favourite is the one Geoff told me the next day. He called his other neighbour and left a message regarding the bear passing between their houses. She was busy getting a chicken out of the oven, and sent her son out to the car with the bird while she checked her voicemail. Geoff looked out his window and was horrified to see little Ollie, a roast chicken in his arms, traversing the very path that the bear had used moments before.

But everyone's kept safe, including the bear, and I hope it stays that way.