strategies, just in case

Returned to exercise class after being absent for 3 weeks. Luckily I can depend upon muscle memory; once the music starts it’s all about bumping and grinding to the rhythm. It takes a few minutes for my brain cells to fall in line, moving to the beat as one, with my body. But I know that in older age it’s going to take many more classes, as well as walking the track in the evenings, to peel off the pounds I put on while visiting my daughter. I made sure she ate well, unfortunately I partook of the same bounty. Because my husband and I share the same health concerns, it’s easier to return to a stricter diet, lots of veggies and fruits, much less carbs, absolutely no butter, and no snacking whatsoever. My daughter could afford to digress from her normal diet of salads, veggies, fruits and protein, because she exercises all day, every day.

I received a hearty welcome from Kristina, the instructor, as well as my exercise cronies. It’s nice to be missed. Quite a few ladies were absent from the group. But once the weather reaches down into the 40 degrees, the rest will return. Chilly weather correlates to heartier meals like soups and stews, while the holidays seem to give us carte blanche to overeat. Only when we’re sufficiently guilt-ridden, and have packed on enough extra pounds, do we make our way back to common sense, and exercise. So I’d better undo what I’ve already done, in preparation for what I’m about to do. Make sense?

After class, Kristina and I made our way to a charming coffee-house which I’d not been in before. The owners of the adjoining wine bar, Vino Bella, opened this deli which serves up breakfast and lunch sandwiches, in addition to espresso drinks. Will definitely return with my husband on the weekend to sample the food. Over lattes, Kristina and I chatted about topics ranging from politics to families. Of particular interest was her advice about bear encounters. She’s a fan of the great outdoors, having seen a fair number of wild animals while hiking. We decided that avid hikers learn not to panic, as well as what they should, and shouldn’t, do during encounters. My guess is that practice makes perfect. Problem is, I don’t want to practice meeting up with wild animals, in order to figure out how best to deal with them when I do. I would like NEVER to encounter a wild animal, period. But if I do, I’ll try to follow Kristina’s advice.

  • It’s her opinion, and others, that black bears are not as inclined as grizzlies to attack humans. In the rare case that a black bear does harm a person, there’s probably an extenuating circumstance. In the recent case reported on the local news, it was found that the bear was malnourished, and afflicted with parasites.
  • If I encounter a black bear (Kristina assures me there are no grizzlies in the area), I should not look it in the eye, I should not run. Both responses will trigger the bear’s defensive and predatory instincts. Instead she recommends I go limp, and “play dead,” covering my vital organs and head. I’ve seen this recommendation enacted in a TV documentary where the speaker slumped to the ground in a fetal position, hands cradling the back of his head, fingers intertwined. Kristina related the recent Yellowstone incident where 3 people were attacked by a bear. A woman who was bitten, screamed. The bear responded by biting harder; the woman screamed louder, and so on. Realizing she needed to change her strategy, she went limp, playing dead. The bear ceased biting her and, unfortunately, went after another person.
  • Kristina and I also discussed what I should do if I came across a cougar (or mountain lion), because they’ve also been seen in neighboring backyards. She enlightened me to the fact that, unlike black bears who subsist primarily on grass and berries, cougars are predators. Because they fear other predators, my best defense is to present myself as one, by making noise, swinging a rake or some other weapon, and even pulling my jacket or shirt up over my head to appear larger.

We hadn’t planned on discussing defense strategies should I come face-to-face with black bears or cougars, but I can never arm myself with too much information, just in case. I just hope  my brain’s muscle memory will go into automatic cruise control. It’s little consolation that while assuring me black bears don’t attack humans, Kristina admitted that on the rare occasion one does then, unfortunately, it must be that victim’s destiny. Okay…

A cousin of Kristina’s is here in the U.S. from his home in the UK. Like her, he’s an avid outdoors person. Since mid-July he has been hiking mountain ranges, making his way through  several western states. Kristina and her daughter have joined her cousin on some of his treks. He told them of 3 encounters he’d had with black bears, who all took flight at the sight of him. The speed with which they turned and ran, confirmed his knowledge that a human could never outrun a bear, so best not try. Through his binoculars he saw a grizzly with 2 cubs in a field, some distance away. That would still be too close for me, unless I was safely ensconced in a huge tour bus, surrounded by fellow travelers.

Like you I think bears and wild cats are cute, when they’re behind glass or across moats, in a zoo, or on the African plains, but not roaming around my neighborhood. And if you live where there isn’t the slightest  possibility that you’ll come eye to eye with a wild animal, then thank your lucky stars. I don’t mind co-habitation, as long as we’re not doing it in the same spot, at the same time.   

you never know, you just never know…hugmamma. (local news just reported black bear seen “hanging out in a grassy area” down the road from our neighborhood, same place where another one was hit and killed by a car last week. hmmm…we may have to build mocha an indoor bathroom. not sure i’ll be walking her anymore, unless it’s around the track in the gym.)

hugs for sharing some brief thoughts...and keeping them positive

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