An Unexpected Visitor

Once in a while there comes one of those events that has our jaws dropping and the more level-headed among us running for cameras.  Note I’m leaving myself out of that last category…but I was able to borrow the pic below from another guest who never leaves home without her camera equipment.

On Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends we gather with friends and relatives for the bi-annual Pork Loin Cook-Off.  As you can figure from the name, it revolves around men showing off their meat…grilling it, that is.  There’s a lot of banter and bragging as the grills get set up facing the proper direction (yes, apparently that’s important.  Who knew?) and lighting the brickettes.  Then it appears to help to stand in a group staring at the closed grills while the meat cooks.  I haven’t ever understood that necessity but it’s a time honored tradition among the males and I’ve never been one to mess with custom.  Usually because I’m on the hunt for another vodka lemonade slush.

The weather Sunday was great, hot but windy.  There was a lot of music, tons of food and liquid libations of all sorts.  There was also an unexpected visitor:

One of the guests was driving down the road in front of the host’s house, about 200 yards away, when she saw a black bear jogging down the road toward her.  She stopped, of course, and the bear veered off into a more wooded section of land.

Well, of course when we heard we all trooped down to where the creature was last seen, because hey, it’s a *bear*, and getting as close as possible to a wild animal seems particularly wise after several aforementioned libations.  The rest of us were doomed to disappointment, however.  No bear sighting occurred.

Until…about twenty minutes later.  The host said, in an unreasonably calm voice, “Hey if you want to see that bear, it’s right there.”  We all ambled to the front of the house, figuring he’s joking…and the bear was crossing the field across the street.

A bunch of us dashed across the road to get a closer look.  My hubby and the host thought it would be a dandy idea to jump in a Gator and get even closer.  The bear made it across the field and then stopped, seeming to ponder his next move.  The road in the picture above is actually an exit off the highway.  Cars were stopped all over it because people would see the bear and want a closer look.  As you can tell, we’re rural here, but not *that* rural.  The deer bouncing across the field earlier got little mention, but we get pretty excited about mountain lions and bears.

Eventually the bear decided it was going to cross the road to get to the next field.  It passed within eight feet of the Gator, never paying the people any mind at all.  And apparently it wasn’t a pork fan, because it bypassed the BBQ altogether.  We should have told it we also had shrimp, fish, and fresh fruit.

I’m told authorities have been ‘monitoring’ the bear as it has made appearances all around north Iowa in recent days.  I hope it gets back home safely.  I hope some idiot with a gun doesn’t to go all great-white-hunter on it.  But mostly I’m thankful to be living in a place where every so often, a bear can take a stroll across a nearby field and provide us with one of those awestruck moments.

I’m always delighted when I get rare glimpses of wildlife.  What’s the most unexpected nature sighting you’ve had near your home?

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25 Responses to An Unexpected Visitor

  1. Cheryl says:

    How awesome! Thanks for sharing!

  2. TrishJ says:

    We have a bear too. We haven’t actually seen it yet … It just takes our trash cans, carries them to the trees and goes through them. We see the tracks though. We have seen foxes (very cute) and a wolf (really creepy). Yesterday the grandkids yelled to “come see” … A wild turkey. They were so excited. You just don’t see those things in the city!

  3. Lori says:

    That was a rare see in good ole Iowa! We had a coyote walk through our back yard in the middle of the afternoon, while my Dad was laying out by the pool. Scary thing is I went outside and started yelling and waving my arms like a crazy person and the coyote didn’t even run, her just watched me then trotted off into the trees. Oh and we have raccoons, skunks, armadillos and snakes in our yard, yuck to all of them!

  4. Liz Flaherty says:

    We have deer who call in most evenings for a drink (Indiana), but I love the bear story!

  5. Leanne says:

    Great story Kylie! Thanks for sharing. Can I have one of those vodka lemonade slushes?:) Even though I live a bit off the busiest path, I live in a neighborhood, so when we see a family of deer in our front yard, that’s pretty fun.:) (As long as they don’t bring ticks!) I’ve also seen a little fox. That was amazing. And my husband nearly wrecked his car to keep from running into a mama turkey and her babies as they crossed the road. Gobble, gobble.:)

    • kylie brant says:

      Leanne, when we’re at the beach house in NC our favorite entertainment is to go out on the deck at dusk and throw food down for the family of foxes that live in the bushes. Foxes are everywhere down there.

  6. In our little suburban patch of woods (MN) we have everything you’ve mentioned so far except bears and armadillos. And they all actually live here–not just passing through. One spring we had twin fawns who were here into the fall. Once the leaves fall they tend to become scarcer. A bobcat passed through once. I think the most amazing visitor was a Great Grey Owl one winter. They don’t get this far south often, but that winter the snow pack was really thick up north. We have smaller owls in residence in our woods–I hear them almost every night–but the Great Grey was HUGE. When he spread his wings and buzzed my Aussie–just to show him he could–it took my breath away.

  7. loisgreiman says:

    We have sand cranes lately. Don’t know why. Last year we had 2 this year 6. They’re fun. There was a painted turtle laying eggs on our lawn yesterday and the day before a young buck was eying the horses from across the fence. Swans flew overhead almost within arms reach a few days ago and the wild turkeys are getting closer and closer. Camping over the weekend we had a raccoon on our picnic table but alas… no bears. Good luck to your furry friend, Kylie.

    • kylie brant says:

      Lois, we tend to have swans (and ducks and geese) because we have a river through town. There are always about six that come for the summer. A few days ago we saw baby swans. They are ugly 🙂

  8. LInda says:

    I think I am very lucky to live and work in places where I get to see “wild” creatures all the time. At my clinic there is a group of about 20 Turkeys that come out each night. There are also deer in the same field with the Turkeys. Where I live it is close to a lake and there are pheasants, turkeys, deer, foxes and plenty of ducks and geese. But some of the greatest treats I have had is when I go to OK to see my parents. Driving down their road I have seen bobcats and I swore one time it was a cougar. I have never sen a bear in the wild, those I have only seen in parks, and yes I have been up close and personal with one when it was under anesthesia so I could draw blood. Again the joys of my job!

  9. michelehauf says:

    As we encroach upon their habitats the wildlife become closer and closer. Lots of bear sightings in the papers lately, and many a pic of police shooting a tranq dart at a bear in a tree, and that freefall from above captured on film. Kinda sad, I think. They are probably confused by all this industry.
    Anyway, I do hope the bear makes it home safely. We get the occasional possum or raccoon in our backyard, and we are smack in the middle of suburbia. Kinda weird.

  10. kylie brant says:

    I always wonder about that freefall, Michele. Why don’t they have a little trampoline or something to catch them? I’m serious. They could get hurt and it seems unnecessary to just let them fall to earth like that.

  11. catslady says:

    Nothing as exotic as bear – deer and turkey’s occasionally. I feed feral/stray cats so I do have possums, ground hogs, raccoons, and one skunk once lol. They come right up to my sliding doors to get the cat food. I had one pregnant raccoon that would sit up and beg. I got to see her 2 young ones only once as babies but I’ve read that they only come out in the day if they are pregnant or have rabies and I knew she wasn’t sick but just extra hungry lol.

    • Kylie Brant says:

      LOL. A few years ago I was walking down a bike bath in a slightly wooded area that is always full of stray cats. To the side of the path up ahead I saw a cat are curled up sleeping and that wow that’s a good sized cat 🙂 Upon passing it, I looked back and noticed the fur wasn’t smooth like a cat, but a bit bristly. So I picked up a pebble and tossed it to hit the animal, waking it up. Well that was one indignant looking raccoon that glared at me before waddling back into the woods

  12. Kathleen O says:

    I can’t say I would want to be that close to a bear unless it was in a cage at the zoo… I had a deer jump in front of my car. And thank god I could stop in time.. Thanks about as close as I want to come to any wildlife…

  13. MaryC says:

    While driving up to Saranac Lake, a deer appeared in the road and stood in front of our car for about 30 seconds before running into the woods.
    We do have wild turkeys running around – there was one standing on the median strip on a very busy road – must have been waiting for a break in the traffic.

  14. Kristina Mathews says:

    We have deer, wild turkey, and quail who frequent our yard to torment the dog. The other evening, my 13 year old came in and told me there was an owl perched on the antenna of my new car parked in the garage. I think it was a Western Screech Owl, not very big, and it just sat there while we took pictures of it and talked to it for a while. Then it flew off into the tree in our front yard and stayed there while our neighbor’s three girls came over for a visit. It was very cool, and just hung out with us for quite some time.

    Our Northern California town is also home to foxes, coyotes and I know we there are Mountain Lion nearby, but fortunately they keep to themselves. There have also been bear sightings but usually they just leave evidence. My in-laws’ neighbor did find half a deer carcass on thier property and wonder what ate the other half. Probably a Mountain Lion. My boys think it might have been a zombie.

  15. Heather says:

    What a cool sighting!

    I live on the edge of a large city, but due to proximity of several nature preserves, I see A LOT of wildlife. In fact, one friend who lives in the country claims I see more than she does. Aside from the urban turkeys wandering the neighborhood, I have seen deer, coyote, fox, hawks, sandhill cranes, groundhogs, raccoons… I never get tired of it!

  16. roxrustand says:

    I would love one of those vodka slushes, Kylie! 🙂

    We get raccoons and occasional opossums in our barn, coming in after cat food. The possums are like big, placid rats and waddle slowly away when approached. I hate to see them, because a virus in their feces is dangerous to horses and if they poop on the hay it is bad news. We have lots of turkeys in the area and deer regularly appear in the pasture.

    But the most unusual thing would be finding a huge turtle ambling down our dusty gravel road (with no stream or lake within a mile, I threw my jacket over him so he couldn’t swing his head back to nail my hands, then I hoisted him into the back of my SUV and gave him a ride to the creek.)

    And, one has to be careful driving down our dead end country road, because Reggie, a neighbor’s lovelorn peacock, spends a lot of time in the middle of the road looking for a date. One can hear his distinctive calls a half mile away. Another neighbor used to have a female, and her calls sounded like a screaming woman.

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