Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day Two Hundred and Three

On our recent mountain sojourn I had an encounter with a bear. With autumn here the creatures descend the mountains from their summer habitats in search of berries and other food to gorge upon before they hibernate for the winter, so it is not uncommon to come across one. It is still unsettling.

The chalet we were staying at is about at third of the way up a mountain. A few dwellings line the winding road to it, creating a small community. Beyond there is forest, far up the mountain. The bears stay to the forest for the most part, thought certainly there were warnings posted in our cabin and elsewhere noting the possibility we might encounter one.

After breakfast I wandered outside in my bathrobe and swimwear for a dip in the hot tub. The tub was on a patio extending nearly the length of the building, which is set into the mountain, so the road to it is both above and behind, as is the forest. I didn’t glance up until I reached the tub and I saw, seated on the large rocks that act as a sort of retaining wall, a bear.

It was both across from me and above me, sitting under the full rays of the sun. I went still as soon as I noticed it, even then not quite realizing what I was seeing. It was a cub, and so it was small, and so perfectly still upon the rock, paying no need to my approach, that I wondered if there was a bear statue that I just hadn’t noticed before.

Finally it turned to gaze at me with complete indifference, its tongue extended out as though testing the air, and I decided it was time to go inside. I went back slowly, my gaze still on the bear as though I still needed confirmation that it was in fact what my eyes told me it was. It was again totally indifferent to my presence, turning back to gaze down the mountain from its perch, while I slipped inside and closed the patio doors. We watched from the safety of the chalet as it sat on the rocks and, later, as it ambled down to inspect the barbecue on the balcony, before growing bored and returning to the forest.

As anyone will know, the presence of a cub means a sow must be nearby. Later that day I saw it, long after we thought the cub had wandered back into the forest, and not too long after we had ventured to the hot tub for a soak. It was ambling up the mountainside along a path connecting our chalet to others. I caught a glimpse of it, huge and lumbering, before it vanished behind some trees. It had appeared, I realized, from some trees right where the cub had been staring while sunning itself on the rock.

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