Imaginary Bears

It is impossible to walk through the forests now without meeting them, the imaginary bears.

We know that the real bears are starting to rise and move, shake off a winter’s worth of sluggishness and snow.

But somehow the real bears are never as tangible as the imaginary bears.

Real bears are confined by physics and space and time.

They are not able to be everywhere at once:

In the crack of weakened branches

In the pungent smell of rising skunk cabbage

In the faint shadow at the corner of the eye, reaching out from the tangle of alder

The signs of the real bears only make the imaginary bears more powerful.

Each scar on the tree rises up into an invisible paw, extending backwards into our heads.

We are not afraid of the imaginary bears, not really.

They provide an added edge to the noises, to the experience of breaking through the last of the snow and the leaf litter.

They make us feel that our intrusion is noticed.

They are less frightening than the recognition that we walk on empty pathways.

That our passage is brief and unimportant.

That we exist here only as imaginary noises at the edge of a distant bear’s hearing.

IMG_1628The passage of bears is well-marked

I like being something that a bear might have imagined.


While I don’t have bears, I do have other imaginary animals available in my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor, over here.

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7 thoughts on “Imaginary Bears

      • I spend a lot of time fishing in bear country, I just try not to think about it; besides, there are a lot worse ways to go. Sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes the bear eats you. 🙂

      • I’ve always looked at it that way. 🙂 I’ve had my share of up close and personal bear encounters and I like to think that we have a mutual professional respect. The young male black bears are the worst problem and they’re easy enough to spot and hear.

      • I agree- dogs help a lot with that. I think it is always important to have a healthy respect for those who live in the backwoods and part of that is acknowledging the risk I take when I travel out there.

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