live to see another day

God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.
Voltaire


(a young bear scales the tip top of the trees in Cades Cove / Julie Cook / 2018)

We’ve come up to Tennessee, to Cades Cove for a couple of days.
It is by far one of my most favorite places on earth…as I have seen some mighty grand and
lovely places on this planet. But Cades Cove is special.

I’ve written about Cades Cove before so I won’t go into all of that all over again
but just know that it remains a small remnant of who and what settled this great
land of ours.

Today in the Cove (an 11-mile one-way loop around what was once an early 19th-century
mountain valley settlement and centuries-old Indian territory)
we actually came upon two bears climbing like nimble footed acrobats
to the tip-top branches of the trees…
there were berries.

Cars had stopped as everyone got out, careening necks upward while staring in amazement,
watching these two big black bears acting more like squirrels.

As the day waned, we made our way back to the cabin where we were staying and
decided to go hike some of the nearby trails.
We had been told upon check-in that there was a bear on the property so just be
vigilant when out and about.

Making our way up a narrow trail, my husband leading the way with his long spider stick
waving precariously in front of him like some sort of crazy conductor’s baton
(a stick or twig used to knock down all the webs that are prolific this time of year)
all the while as I lagged slightly behind with my camera snapping pictures of the various
mushrooms and toadstools and yes, spider webs…

Suddenly my husband stops dead in his tracks and urgently announces BEAR.

I freeze.

About 20 feet in front of us, at the bend in the trail, lumbers a very large mother
black bear with two tiny cubs in tow.

I threw my camera up as fast as I thought I had life left to do so in order to snap a shot,
a shot I didn’t even have time to focus, when mom and babies nonchalantly kept
walking around the curve in the path….
all the while as we prayed she wouldn’t turn and charge at us.

We just stood there as she rounded the turn and disappeared.
Then boldly, or brazenly I’m not sure which, we opted to take a few steps forward just
to see which way they were headed when suddenly one of the cubs pops back around
the corner to take a gander at us before he circles back to mom.

At which point we turned and took another trail.

Once back down to the main road we spied a maintenance worker who we decided should
hear our report of seeing a mama bear with cubs on the retreat’s property.

He casually replies “yeah…they’ve been around awhile, best to keep your distance
but that’s nothing…
two weeks ago I was standing right over there when a mountain lion came
out of nowhere and crossed the path right in front of me…
but these darn spiders…now they’re what really bothers me”

We opted to leave him our spider stick for protection.

The wild animals honor me,
the jackals and the owls,
because I provide water in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland,
to give drink to my people, my chosen,

Isaiah 43:20

conspiracies

Whenever you’re faced with an explanation of what’s going on in Washington,
the choice between incompetence and conspiracy,
always choose incompetence.

Charles Krauthammer


(the severed peach leaves / Julie Cook / 2017)


(a once spritely spry apple tree / Julie Cook / 2017)

Well there has certainly been a bunch of mumbo jumbo out there lately over conspiracy theories
and those responsible instigators…those troublesome clandestine conspiracy theorists.
Because isn’t it is because of “them”, whoever the thems are,
that all of this shadowy pandemonium get’s its base to begin with??

But I’m digressing here as I need to address my own conspiracy theory…

You may remember a couple of weeks back when I posted a picture of a ripening apple we
had growing on one of the four apple trees?
For whatever reason….I’ve never had much luck growing apples nor
my peaches for that matter.
But this year I was really hopeful.

We had two apples on one of the four apple trees and one of the four peach trees was
loaded with about 11 little growing golf ball size peaches.
Maybe this was going to be my year…

So the other evening after my gentleman farmer of a husband had conducted his evening overseeing
of the 50 green Q-tips, aka, pecan trees,
he naturally rounded out the inspection with the fruit trees.

Once inside he summoned me to come see the trees.

“Why?” I hesitantly asked.
“Something has happened” he replied a bit alarmed.
“What do you mean something happened?” I countered.
“Because something happened, OK! Something has shredded the trees!”
“Huh?”
“SOMETHING has practically destroyed the trees!!!

and so naturally I dutifully follow my alarmed husband out the door…
now equally as alarmed.

“See this” he most defiantly lifts one of many sheared off tiny limbs
to one of the apple trees.
“And look at your peach trees….!!”

Sure enough….devastation.
But not devastation as in the deer ate off the leaves again.
This looked like someone had more or less taken a weed whacker to the poor trees.

Now we have had problems in the past with male deer who, when coming out of the velvet,
meaning when it’s the season that they start rubbing on anything and everything just
to get the fuzzy summer growth or “velvet” off of their forming antlers…..
but this isn’t the time yet for such as the horns are just now starting to grow.


(detail of a deer’s antler shedding the velvet, courtesy Dannerholz Whitetails)

So something else is to blame for this devastation….but what??

Now we have been told by reliable sources from those deer hunters who have been deep in the woods
behind our property that they have actually seen two black bears.

And it certainly is not uncommon for the Atlanta news to report on bears in suburban Atlanta
neighborhoods having migrated down from their normal habitat in the north Georgia mountains.
Plus it is not uncommon for the bears of middle and south Georgia to migrate northward—
all due in part to the bears natural habitats shrinking coupled by last year’s drought
which has sent hungry bears in search of food.


(youtube image of a mom black bear and her cubs wandering an Atlanta neighborhood)

Ok so I could see a bear deciding to decimate my fruit trees but there is another more
bizarre theory being tossed around out there that’s been floating around
ever since we bought the property and built our house.

Something strange and a little frightening.
Something of legend and lore….

Shortly after we were settled into our house, almost 20 years ago now,
I held a yard sale as we needed to lighten the load of having moved a lifetime
from one house to another.
And by the way, that was our first and last yard sale because my husband was none to keen having
folks park all over his new grass…but I digress….

So as the day was waning and the influx of shoppers was also waning,
a rather odd older woman wandered into our midsts.
I didn’t see her pull up in a car, so I wasn’t real certain where she’d come from.

She walked up to me and asked if I was the one who lived in the house as I politely
replied that yes I did.
She informed me that she lived down the road a ways, down near the creek.
The road past our house turns from neighborhoods and houses to pastures, woods,
cows, chickens, creeks, deers and more desolate than habitable.

This odd little visitor proceeded to tell me a rather interesting tale.

She told me not to be surprised if I should hear, see or even smell something strange
near our house…do not be surprised should I see something large wandering through the
fields or skirting near the edge of the woods.

Well I don’t know if you’ve ever had a yard sale, but you can certainly see, hear and even
smell that which is strange in the way of “shoppers”….just saying.

She told me that on several occasions her dogs would be barking wildly at night-
howling while desperately wanting in the house.
She’d go out to inspect the commotion only to be hit by an overwhelming, powerful
and horrendous odor.
And no, we’re not talking skunk or a dead possum or armadillo—
just an overwhelming stench.

Then one night, once again alerted by the dogs, she raced out of the house…
and this time she actually saw it….or actually a glimpse of it…
Just running back into the woods…a dark giant and very smelly ape like thing…

She then added that her dogs have remained scared to death ever since never wanting
to be out in the yard alone….

hummmmmmm……
Sasquatch…
Bigfoot….is that one word or two?


(youtube clip of a sighting in Georgia…..)

And so now on any late evening, or in the light of day for that matter,
when I’m out in the yard doing those things that I do in the yard…
and I catch a whiff of something odd…or hear something rustling in the overgrown field,
or catch an odd shadow along the edge of the woods,
I wonder…..

So there you have it—
something destroyed my fruit trees….while the question remains..
what….

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.
He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears,
and he will tell you what is yet to come.

1 John 16:13