Posted by: jeannineatkins | June 3, 2008

View from the Kitchen

When I was in Boston in April, someone asked where I liked to write. “I’m usually at the kitchen table, but it’s a sadder spot in spring when I have to take down the birdfeeder outside the window.”

“Why do you take down the birdfeeder?” she asked.

“We live in western Massachusetts,” I said. “Near the woods.”
Here’s the bigger answer, what I saw from my kitchen table yesterday morning.

This bear lumbered through the yard and down the hill. Birdfeeders are long down. The trash bin has been piled with shovels and rakes, my own little bear trap device (theory being the racket they’d make would scare them off, and to some extent, this seems to work).

Now I’m on the porch, enjoying the perennials and end-of-bloom azaleas.

I’m starting to get used to the quieter days, and trying to use that word – quiet –instead of lonely. I’ll be teaching again come fall, and need to use these long stretches of time between to finish the loveliest possible draft –though I’ll settle for good on this round — of my prose/poetry book set in Sumer. Silence starts to feel a little more comfortable. I notice the way its holes let in new ideas. And how I can fill it up with the soft clatter-clack of my keyboard. Silence mostly, yes, but the catmint and late-blooming lilacs have a scent I get to breathe in.



  1. Oh MY! A bear!

  2. A bear? You’re so casual about it! It looks quite big.

  3. Woah! That’s amazing!
    I may be coming out your way on June 19 if you are interested in perhaps meeting for coffee and having a writing date. 🙂
    Peter has a meeting at MHC, and I’m hoping I can find someone to take Eli so I can join him.
    What do you think???

  4. Um, it was pretty big, and my heart would be pounding if there wasn’t a wall between us, but the bears do mind their own business. Truth be told, I worry more about my father in law who carries a baseball bat to visit us. Pop, please just blast the horn before you get out of the car! A bit of noise scares them away.

  5. Oh that would be wonderful to have coffee and a writing date! I’ve marked it on my calendar in pencil and it may be the highlight of June.

  6. Yay!!!
    I will try to confirm asap!

  7. Wow! I get all excited at a couple of cowbirds in my yard and you get a bear! Oh my!

  8. Pretty bear, but too close for comfort, methinks. Your garden looks lovely!

  9. Wow, and I thought it was bad having to deal with the raccoons! When you see the bear, can you even focus on writing–I’d be so blown away. The one time I saw a young bobcat on our property, all I could do was stare.

  10. Close, but I did take the picture through the window. With dogs barking loudly, a sound bears do not like, and they do not need to know these dogs are much smaller than them. I do love flowers that basically take care of themselves (and do have the big dog out with me when I do any weeding.)

  11. Oh, this was my one bear siting this year, so it was … cool, I’m glad we’re all inside — then back to work. These guys are pretty shy really. I think the one who got into garbage a few times was put off by the old flax seed bread, must have been a white bread kind of bear. Good.

  12. “These guys are pretty shy really. I think the one who got into garbage a few times was put off by the old flax seed bread, must have been a white bread kind of bear. Good.”
    hahah That made me laugh!
    I know a lot of people are afraid of the bear, but I actually think it’s kinda cool to see one. Usually people only see whatever damage they left behind. They seem to be more of a nuisance really than something to fear. From what I hear black bears have to feel directly threatened to be aggressive, and they generally run away when they see people. Apparently they don’t really like to fight things they perceive as a challenge. They’re more keen on opportunistically killing lambs and other completely defenseless grazing animals, as well as rifling through trash cans! haha
    I think they are cute, but not something one wants to take any chances with obviously, since it’s possible to run into a nutty one. haha

  13. Yeah, watch out for those nutty ones, the ones who haven’t read the Bear Code, or that’s what E’s grandpa would say. I totally agree with you, most are harmless, just looking for a change of pace re what food they can find in the woods, and best not to let them get a taste but continue to forage on their own as they have for centuries. And keep our distance. Especially with little white dogs (oh my gosh I don’t want to let my mind go there!)

  14. hehe the Bear Code. 😛
    I forgot you guys have that tiny little white poof dog! Daphne will just warn him off by scrawling notes in the dirt with her sticks!

  15. oh honey honey honey. While you were off earning awards in art school, I have the sad news to report that our Daphne is no longer scrawling notes in the dirt with her sticks. But Daphne was happily carting sticks in her mouth until about three days before her death this fall. She had a good thirteen years, but that was so not the phone call I wanted to make to E.
    And Daphne would have just wanted to make friends with the bear. Tail wagging.

  16. awwww
    I forgot – Em did tell me, but sometimes there are things you don’t wanna hear and you just put it out of mind when you aren’t faced with it.
    Haha Daphne totally would have wanted to be friends with the bear! hahaha She was so funny. 🙂

  17. Way cool!!!

  18. Okay so I want to know – do you go out hiking in bear country?
    Your perennials are just lovely!

  19. Thanks re perennials, which are wet today, but still I love the color.
    I do walk in the woods but always with a dog, and I do think their noise keeps away the bears I know are out there. I did buy a whistle at a sports store and the guy was like, yeah, lady, this is so not going to keep away bears. But really I believe they are friendly bears who don’t like a racket so for the most part I walk at peace. Thanks for asking, Joyce. I’ll be careful!

  20. COOL!
    And lovely view, whether it’s flowers or bears. Great place to write!

  21. I’m glad you thought the bear was cool, as we did. My husband was commenting on how my friends seemed kind of worried about this bear. Around our neighborhood, people tell you they saw a bear and it’s so what else is new? We just long to see a moose — but maybe not in our car on a road.

  22. I live in central Minnesota, so there are both bears and moose up north. But we don’t spend enough time up there to see them. We go to family camp up in the wilderness in July, and I’d love to catch a glimpse of at least one or the other. I have great memories of seeing bears on hiking trips on the Appalachian Trail when I was a kid. How lucky for you to have this bit of wildness right in your neighborhood. It’s amazing.

  23. View from the kitchen
    Jeannine that is some big boy. Watch out! I think you are right though the bears just would rather mind their own business. Joan’s neighbor had a small juvenile black bear get into her neighbor huge bag of bird seed. He just sat on his butt next to the shed and shoved handfuls in his mouth while the whole neighborhood stood around in the driveway watching. Great to see you Saturday.

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