Today the kids are at the Astor cottage on the St. John's river visiting with their father. I have written about our life on the river previously. And, while it was rustic, wild and inconvenient, I still think the children had an incredible experience and have learned and developed an appreciation of Nature.
One of the most unusual stories about our life on the river occurred the second Fall we were there. I came home one day to find three bears in our yard. One was a mama bear, and the other two were cubs. The next day we spotted what appeared to be an adolescent and papa bear. Five bears! Now, being Northerners, and basically ignorant of the Florida wilderness, we were at a loss. Our neighbor informed us that in 30 years of river life he had seen nothing like it. His guess was that they were after the abundant acorn supply that littered our yard. It never crossed our minds to call animal patrol. We just lived with those bears.
When I came home late in the afternoon, Mama bear would be eating in the yard and her cubs would be up in the tree playing. I would slowly get out of the car and say to her "Now, mama, my cubs are in the car and I know yours are up in the tree. Just let me get mine in the house."
And she would.
At night, we would read Max and Zoe Goodnight Moon, and then go to the windows and say goodnight to the bears.
They stayed almost a month happily eating all the acorns in sight. We never had any trouble, only laughs. One bear liked the kid's swing set. We have a great picture of him looking like he was trying to swing! We loved watching the cubs play, and the mother snooze by a tree.
Not too many families get to live with bears; especially harmoniously. I don't know why they chose us. But, I am thankful for the experience and it will be a great story for Max and Zoe to share with their kids.