Monday, January 4, 2016

Animal Dreams

Last night I dreamt about an animal, some kind of cat. The dream woke me up about 3 am. Half-asleep, I turned on the light and wrote on the pad on my bedside table: write about animal encounters in blog. I promptly fell back asleep.
When I saw the note this morning I remembered the dream but wondered what it meant. What animal encounters? Then I remembered the bear, and the deer, and the squirrels…
I’m not a big believer in dreams, but this was so unusual I decided to honor the dream’s message and, as a friend of mine says, follow the prompt.
There are so many things that will always make me think of Arthur. Squirrels are one of them. There have been many times over the last months when I have been despairing and a squirrel has shown up. I live on the edge of the woods. In the backyard there’s what Arthur called a ‘squirrel highway.’ The squirrels take the same path day after day through the trees. A Bradford pear tree is in the middle of their route. The squirrels love that tree—in the spring they hang upside down eating the buds and in the fall they eat the ripe fruit. Arthur loved watching them out of our office window. Countless times last year I would be sitting in the office, sad and bereft, looking out the window, and a squirrel would waggle its tail or leap across a gap between trees and my heart would lift.  

I live at the head of a cove, near the Blue Ridge Parkway, so it’s not uncommon to see bears here. This summer mother bears came strolling through the backyard many times with their cubs. One morning I heard an altercation between two adults, one of them a mother with cubs. The mother and cubs climbed up a tree for safety and I got some video of them in the tree and climbing down an hour later.

One day when I had hiked up the mountain behind my house I was sitting relaxed on a rock outcropping. I heard a noise in the bushes below; it was obviously a large animal. A few seconds later an adult bear emerged, no more than twenty feet from me. I had researched what to do in this situation—first speak to the bear then make yourself look larger if it comes towards you. So I spoke aloud: “I’m here, I know you didn’t expect to find me here, this is a wonderful place isn’t it, I’ll be leaving soon…” and as I talked it looked at me, then turned to amble off to my right. But after a few steps it turned and started moving towards me and I remembered I had food in my backpack that was halfway between the bear and me.
I grabbed a stick that happened to be nearby, stood up and yelled at the bear. It was startled and turned and moved off at a fast pace. I made sure it got out of sight before I let go of my menacing stance. I gathered my things and left. But I was elated. That was the closest I have ever been to a bear in the woods.
I’ve lived in this house for six years now. I’d never seen a deer in my yard until last summer, when I saw a deer in the backyard twice in two days. That was it for deer sightings. In December I read the journal I kept last year. On Christmas Eve about sunset I looked out into the backyard and a deer came strolling through. What was notable about this was I had read the passages about seeing the deer that morning.
Mind the coincidences came into my mind. Not long ago I heard a friend tell of a beautiful encounter she had after the death of her mother. She was in a public place and a woman came and spoke with her. Some of the things this woman said made my friend feel like this was a visitation from her mother. The message she was given was ‘mind the coincidences.’

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