1. Japhy and Kieran run into the house breathing hard saying they just the bears. “Two big bears and a cub!”
“So what did you do?” Segundo asks.
Their breathing slows and Japhy says “I just stood there with my jaw dropped. We were following Asia into the woods looking for squirrels. Then she started barking like crazy. This big bear was like 15 feet away. There were these really small tight pine trees. I turned and ran and out.”
“So you did exactly the opposite of what you’re supposed to do?” Segundo says.
“Well my first reaction wasn’t to yell,” says Japhy. “But then I yelled and screamed. Kieran was just up from me on the path and started yelling that there was another bear like 60 feet up.”
2. Japhy is Segundo’s son. He just turned 13. Kieran lives up the hill. He’s 11. They both have slingshots and sheath knives tucked into their belts. Japhy actually has a sheath knife plus a bayonet from and old M1 rifle.
3. “Was the ‘cub’ the juvenile we’ve been seeing?” I ask. They’re not sure. But Kieran says “We had our slingshots out and knives drawn.”
4. Just before the kids came in, Segundo had put on rice and chicken for dinner. Now it’s almost ready. Miles Davis has been playing on low the whole time. Kind of Blue. Like everything Segundo does it’s all about calming down. He’s a fire and rescue volunteer. At any time he could get a call and be first on the scene at, say, a motorcycle vs. car along the Peak to Peak Hwy.
5. The boys keep standing there. Then Segundo says “alright you guys have 10 minutes if you want to go tell Mike what happened. And then dinner’s ready.” They scramble off.
6. An hour later now, writing with the last bit of light. Segundo steps out of the house and tosses out the slop bucket where we’ve just washed our dishes. “I’m going toes up,” he says. “See you in the morning.” Tomorrow we’re fixing the door to the trailer. One of the bears ripped if off while we were all away last weekend.
7. I wonder what Miles Davis would’ve thought if he’d heard the boys telling that story over his music running on solar panels in an off-grid house at 9,200 feet.
8. Will comes back from visiting friends. We light a campfire. It’s dark now and the bears are holed up down in the pines somewhere. We see a flashlight coming from the house. It’s Japhy, come to see Will and tell the story again.
Like animal stories? Yesterday we published a collection of animal tales from the Matador Community. Interested in submitting notes from the road? Submit to david[at]matadornetwork[dot]com.