In honor of my inaugural post featuring a story from my childhood, it is a particularly long one – more of a story than an anecdote, but also one of our favorite memories to retell. I hope you enjoy this glimpse into my previous life!
No one was to go out alone at night. Adult or child, it didn’t matter. We all knew from Peppercorny’s (our dachshund/chihuahua mix) behavior and specific droppings around our campsite, also known as Tent City, that there was a curious bear that lived nearby and occasionally visited our temporary home. That particular night, Mom and Jen (one of the neighbors building a house next to us) wanted to make some phone calls. Living in tents in the middle of a forest didn’t do much for reception, but we had discovered one specific spot a short ways away that had enough reception to make a call, as long as we stood in one specific spot; it had therewith been christened Phone Booth Hill. During this particular excursion, as many as could fit in Jen’s car were going; specifically, Mom, Jen, Rhea, me, and, of course, the (then) baby, Arianna. We were safely at the Bronco, all standing next to one of the passenger doors, when there was the sound of snapping twigs up on the hill and Peppercorny began barking fiercely in the direction of the trees, rushing at them with all the ferocity his stumpy legs could muster.
Utter panic descended upon us as we realized it was likely the bear, and the already dark night seemed to close in around us as we all discovered that we would never be the heroes in an actual story. All four of us began screaming at the top of our lungs as we simultaneously tried to push our way into the only currently open door, doing our best to shove the others out of the way. Mom’s cry in particular was heard above the rest as she tried to reason with our frozen brains as to why she should live and we should die: “I HAVE A BABY! I HAVE A BABY!”
Needless to say, her argument didn’t register with us and made not one iota of difference. Finally, Jen had a sensible thought and left the three of us struggling to get into the backdoor as she extricated herself and jumped in the driver’s seat, slamming the door behind her. Almost immediately after, Mom seemed to realize there was actually another side, and she went running around the Bronco and leaped into the front passenger seat with the baby, while Rhea managed to shove her way past me and jumped in the back passenger seat, closing the door in my face.
What was a screaming, writhing mess a moment before was now utter silence and I froze as I realized I was alone in the dark, outside the suburban, without even the safety of the flashlight that had been creating wild streams of light around us as we attempted our escape. I am not sure how long I stood frozen in horror, sure a bear was about to descend upon me (although, if he hadn’t been scared off by our blood-curdling screams by now, then perhaps he deserved the meal?), but it likely wasn’t long because by the time I figured out that there WAS actually another door on the other side and ran around to it, everyone was still sitting in semi-shock in their seats.
As the reality of our safety began settling in, rather sheepish looks began to be exchanged as we realized how readily we had given up the lives of family and friends in attempts to save ourselves. Thankfully, we were all to blame, though I didn’t hesitate to point out how I was the last one standing, and our nerves shortly after relieved themselves in laughter as we mentally relived that scene.
We did eventually calm down enough to make it to Phone Booth Hill and make said phone calls, and both Papa and Jen’s husband were roundly scolded when we got back for failing to hear what could have been our demise. By the time all was said and done, we almost convinced ourselves that it might have been nothing. But the next morning, there was a large rip in our cooking tent that could only have been made by a bear.