Visiting family in the US last month, in the foothills of the mountains that edge the great flat spread of LA, I came head to head with two wild bears.
We’re not talking Winnie the Pooh or Paddington Bears, nor Goldilocks and the Three Bears, though, fondly tolerated by locals, these brown bears are known to enter houses in the area.
Despite some familiar facial features, they were neither cute nor cuddly like children’s teddy bears, nor were they in a zoo.
They were real and far too close for comfort, sauntering down the driveway where we were staying. The larger one, a mamma bear, dark brown and very hairy would have been three metres (around nine feet) from rear claw to the tip of its damp snout, accompanied by its cub, a paler brown and measuring at least two metres (six feet).
Insulated from danger for so much of our lives, with our seat belts and shoes and dwellings and towns, where wilderness has been tamed for at least a hundred years, humans are still stalked by cancer and COVID and each other, but our wellbeing is protected in myriad ways, by immunisation, by police, by fire fighters, health care workers, insurers and governments.
My plan to re-enter the house after a walk stalled by wild bears, I reached for my phone and for once it could not help me. I waited and they disappeared, but where?
After a long 20 minutes, I approached with caution. Bigger, nimbler and far more powerful than me, brown bears can run up to 35 miles an hour. Awesome. Fearsome.
I slipped inside and peered out every window. Great climbers, they’d lobbed themselves over the fence and nonchalantly occupied the neighbour’s garden! From medieval times, gardens were meant to protect humans from the wild, to tame nature. Not these gardens.
Eyes riveted to the beasts and heart on staccato, I felt a kind of fear not induced by the silver screen nor the pages of a book. Primeval fear.
In the intense light and shade of the winter Californian sunlight, the bears were perfectly camouflaged until a vast head turned, swivelling from the base of the neck. The mouth opened to reveal teeth and slobbery red skin.
“My, what sharp teeth you have,” came fairy tale words. Terror is visceral, those moments before fight or flight.
Mamma bear stood up on its back legs, sniffing. Sniffing me? Bears recently ate a neighbor’s dog (or perhaps coyotes were to blame). Bears apparently usually target trash or fast food.
This time, they quit the garden. They lumbered up the driveway and back uphill to their mountain wilderness and left me, filled with wonder.
On the subject of writing, I was thrilled to recently receive five-star reviews from two professional reviewers from different volumes in the House of Jewels series in one day!
Humble thanks to poet, lyricist and reviewer Cindy L Spear, who reviewed House of Clubs. Read Cindy’s here.
Writers need readers, and reviews help spread the word.
More free and affordable reads
Once again I’m honoured to team up with fellow writers to share our offerings.
There are some wonderful freebies in this Waves of Love Sweet & Clean Romance offer, organised by Megan Jacobs. (Spot “Diamonds” and feel free to share the link with friends and family.)
There are also some very reasonably priced sweet reads in this Snuggled Up with Sweet Romance offer, arranged by Angie Ellington. (Spot my “Diamonds” and “Hearts” in the mix, and again, please feel free to share the love.)
Shout-out to fellow Aussie indie author Emma Lombard whose historical fiction series centres on a heroine with sealegs.
You might also enjoy Doctor’s Orders by fellow new sweet romance writer Leigh Jenkins, billed as “a single dad matchmaker romance.”
Leigh writes: A family secret, a meddling grandmother, a handsome doctor and of course, a happy ending … what more could you want? Indeed!
And you can find the books of my House of Jewels series here.
Best wishes for 2022!
With the new year upon us I wish you every safety, joy, and all the very best.
Have you encountered any wild creatures lately? Feel free to email me at AmberJakemanSydney@gmail.com with details.