Story Bears

When I was in Kaslo, BC recently working on the edits for On Fire, I stayed in a very small but writerly space (10′ X 12′ or so) called by its owner, Holley Rubinsky, the Retreat in the Field. ( I mostly saw writers while I was there, and not many of them, but I did have numerous visits from black bears. Nocturnal visits, primarily. First I heard dogs barking. Then the bear bangers went off, sounding like gun fire. One particular night a bear rubbed her shaggy body along the sides of my cabin before she lumbered off into the bracken.

The bears were hungry, I was told. The huckleberry crop had failed and they were simply following their noses farther down from the mountain to people and food. My head accepted the logic of that, but my heart or whatever place consciousness resides in when we’re writing told me something different. My heart said it was a good story the bears were after.

Since I wasn’t the only writer working in the area I can’t say exactly which of us drew them or whether it was our collective efforts. But logic aside, I will remember those bears primarily as creatures fascinated by narrative. I wish they could pass their enthusiasm on to those of us who walk around two-leggedly.


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