Lions and hummingbirds and bears, oh my |

Lions and hummingbirds and bears, oh my

Andrew Gmerek

It’s only a distance of approximately 20 feet, but at 5 a.m. it might as well be the English Channel, Mt. Everest or Cape Horn.

I’m talking about the distance my truck is parked from my front door. Which is usually no big deal, but this is bear season. Throw in the fact that I think my wife might be trying to turn me into bear food, and you can guess why I’m afraid to cross this tiny stretch of gravel early in the morning.

My fear of bears is well founded, though my fear of my wife is brand new.

During the years we’ve owned our mountain home, my wife and I have had a few bear encounters. The first bear to visit was drawn to our house like a snowboarder to a snowboardette. It surprised my wife one night by banging loudly on a box filled with birdseed that was sitting on our porch. My wife just stared as the large bruin ate its fill, and then for dessert, grabbed the hummingbird feeder, twisting the solid metal support pole into the shape of an S. It finished its snack by scratching its back on my grill.

Now, personally, I wasn’t surprised, since I’d been telling my wife for months that bears could smell hummingbird food from as far away as Detroit. But until that moment she just scoffed.

Our second visit occurred while we were both at work, and even though there were no eyewitnesses to the crime, the evidence definitely pointed to a bear.

Not only was my wife’s hummingbird feeder a target, but also several of our window screens ended up pretzeled. There were also large nose and tongue prints sliming the windows.

Even our pet bird, usually a talkative fellow, attested to the fact that a bear had come visiting. He was struck mute for days after the incident.

This year, however, I thought it might be different and my wife would give up the hummingbird feeder. After a dry winter and even drier spring, we both knew the bears would be out and about early and also would have little to eat. We knew they’d be drawn to easy sources of food and setting out our feeder would be like waving cotton candy in front of a sugar-addicted child.

When asked, a Colorado Division of Wildlife expert confirmed my worst fears by saying that he’d already seen the majestic creatures in our neighborhood.

Unfortunately, he also went on to say my wife could have a feeder as long as she brought it in at night.

Armed with this knowledge and good intentions, my wife promised – much like a small child promises to clean up after a new puppy – she would religiously bring in the feeder at sunset. So she purchased her usual 100-pound bag of pure cane sugar and started mixing her birdie drug, guaranteed to hop up every hummingbird in a 10-square-mile radius.

As for her promise to the Division of Wildlife guy and her husband, who has a certain phobia about being eaten by bears, it was all but forgotten after the second day. And this has left me doing my insane scream and mad dash every morning while I imagine fangs, claws and lots and lots and lots of drool coming out of the dark.

Last night, after weeks of this kind of stress, I dreamt that while my wife was kissing me good-bye and sending me off to work, she was stuffing raw meat into my pockets. Then, before I escaped out the door, she told me to take the trash. She said it smelled and she had left it next to my truck just so I wouldn’t forget. I woke up just as she began to pour barbeque sauce on my head.

Andrew Gmerek is a weekly columnist for the Summit Daily News.

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