Thursday, March 09, 2006

Childhood Friends

"I was coming home from kindergarten...well they told me it was kindergarten. I found out later I had been working in a factory for 10 years. It's good for a kid to know how to make gloves."

-Ellen DeGeneres

Wednesday is the day of the week I spend with my therapist Sarah. Well, not the whole day mind you...just an hour or so. A lot of what I have been working on in the past year and a half since she became my therapist, has been about the here and now. Handling some exquisite pain, that was still following me around, literally. See, I have a stalker in my past, and it took a long time to feel safe again. I think I will always wonder if I am completely safe, but for now, I feel really strong, and really healthy about the here and now. Sarah has been good for me. :) So, the downside of that comfort zone is that now it is time to work on the childhood pains, but even that is coming along in it's own time, one day at a time. Today, after I came home from therapy, I decided to take a nap.

It was a pleasant rest, because I woke up smiling from a dream about something fun that happened to me when I was a very little girl. I had wanted to share this on Ellipsis for about a month or so, but it didn't seem like the right time. It involves my encounter with a bear when I was a very tiny girl. I put off this entry because Patrick, author of the journal, "Patrick's Place, and " Patrick's Weekender," has been sharing the tragic story of the Maymont Bears, and the events that have followed. It seemed like I would be a bit insensitive to have shared my entry sooner. If you haven't read his entries about the Maymont Bears, go by and read it, I think he has done a pretty good job of bringing the facts to his journal.

Ok, so just before my third birthday, my mother, sister, brother and I went back to the East Coast, to visit my Aunt Amanda, who lives just outside Arlington, but who also had a good sized farm near Farmville, Vriginia. It was late May, so it was quite warm, and I loved the fact that there was plenty of room to run, and explore. I was so curious about everything when I was a little girl. That curiosity was part of what lead to my love of books. I wanted to know about everything about all the mysteries of the world, even as a little person.

I couldn't read yet, of course, but I could explore, and look at pictures of all the animals that fascinated me. My mother had allowed us to have all kinds of domesticated pets, so I knew at a young age to be very respectful of them, to give them their space, and to remember that what belongs to them is theirs...period. I followed that rule pretty closely, and expected the same in return from my kitties and puppies. Sometimes it was reasonable to have that expectation...sometimes it wasn't. LOL. For the most part, over the years, I have had very few things torn up by an overly enthusiastic pet. Whew! :) But on one of those warm days, in May of 1965, I met a wild animal...that was hungry.

I was playing alone, down by the edge of a pond, that was on my Aunt's property. I knew not to go into the water, and I had no inclination to do so anyway. I wasn't much for swimming when I was a little one, that love came much later. No, I was content to just play along the banks of the water and pick flowers. On this particular day, I had on a brown jumper with a strawberry patterned shirt my mother and aunt had made me a couple days earlier. My aunt is an amazing seamstress, and the two of them had some fun together making me a, "country" outfit, which I think was code for, "I don't care if she ruins it, playing by the pond." LOL. It was the coolest thing, it had four pockets, where I could put all the necessities a girl of almost three might need on an adventure. A whistle in case I got lost, which had been sewn into the top pocket, a special pocket for my favorite stuffed animal, a skunk named, "Stinky," and a really nifty pocket that I could tuck my favorite snack, an apple, into.

So, there I am sitting in the sun, with my back against a tree, when the strangest looking dog I had ever seen, came up from behind me. That dog was black, with a big brown colored nose, and he sure did drool a lot. He sniffed at me, and stuck his very wet nose on my upper arm a couple times and it made me laugh. My mother and aunt were sitting on a bench about 25 yards or so away, on the opposite side of the small dock facing the pond. I could see them laughing, and talking and having a good time. To this day, I can remember so clearly how the sun was shining on my aunt's blond hair, making it seem like the color of butter. Anyway, the strange dog seemed like he was little more then a puppy, and I decided to call him Bob.

Well, Bob and I began to ramp a bit and within a couple moments, my green Granny Smith apple, rolled out of my pocket and landed a few feet from me. Bob apparently like to place fetch, because he ran after the apple...and then the dirty buzzard ate it! How rude is that?! Well, that sort of behavior would never do, so I began to pitch quite a little hissy fit. He was going to be put in his place. As I was giving him the "what for," I suddenly heard both my mother and my aunt, yelling for me to come to them. "Walk slowly, Carly." That was a "huh" moment. I more used to, "Carly hurry up," then "walk slowly, Carly." But being the little girl I was, I listened to them and walked towards them, and they met me about half way. We were all walking slowly, back to the house. It made me begin to giggle, because I never saw my mother walk so slow. It was a new game. My mother picked me up and the three of us began to walk back to the house. As I looked back over her shoulder, I saw that there wasn't just the puppy I had been playing with, there was a bigger dog there also.

Of course a few years went by, before I found out that the puppy and the bigger dog were in fact...bears. Big, brown bears. The small one was a bear cub, and as near as my mother and aunt could tell, the BIGGER bear was probably it's mother. Years later they theorized to me that more then likely I wasn't attacked because the mother bear realized I was a cub myself. I hope they were right. For whatever reason, I survived that adventure with little more then a bad mood for having lost my delicious snack. To this day I find myself smiling, when I see a display of Granny Smith apples at the grocerie store. My aunt and I were just talking about that a little over a month ago, she said that she and my mother both nearly dropped dead from fright. LOL. I wish I had full recollection of the event, I just remember how the bear's hair felt stiff and coarse. I remember that cold nose touching my arm, and I remember that I didn't go exploring by myself at my aunt's farm again. Maybe it's a good thing I can't remember the event with total recall, it might add considerably to my time in therapy! LOL.



V said...

Carly, I appreciate the time & care you put into this post. It`s beautifully written and tells an intriguing tale. Thanks for sharing.

Sarah & Carly, onward & upward!

patsy said...

I would say mother bear was not in the area when you and baby bear were your blog, read it every day.

DesLily said...

wow.. that was some story! You really are lucky you came out of it unscathed!

Possibly the reason the cub didn't do anything when he smelled you is because you were so young that you didn't have any fear. Fear has an odor to animals.. they seem to know!

I had read Patricks reports about the bears.. that was ashame. But I also realize as a parent your eyes can't be everywhere at the same time.. it's just ashame they didn't start rabies treatment immediately and spared the bears lives..

Patrick said...

What a great story, Carly. Thanks for sharing it.

Animals are a lot smarter than we give them credit for, and in most cases, when something goes wrong, it's the human's fault.

What a wonderful experience you had, though, to be that close to a bear cub and to find that it treated you with as much wonder as you had for it!

I wish all kids could experience something like that.


Karen Funk Blocher said...

I love that story! Only you, Carly, would have a "peaceable kingdom" experience in your past. So cool - and I'm still smiling!


Becky said...

Perfect artwork you found to illustrate your memory. Good luck with your ultrasound too.