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

veeeeeeery interesting

“Veeeeeery interesting”
Arte Johnson
Rowan and Martin Laugh-In

I couldn’t remember…was it Hogan’s Heroes or Laugh-In?

Maybe you’re old enough to remember both mid to late 1960’s TV shows?

A quick little search answered my query…it was Laugh-In.

Laugh-In was a US television show running from 1968-1973.
It was a comedy show hosted by Dan Rowan and Dick Martin and featured a host of rather
silly and somewhat irreverent characters. Many of whom went on to their own
independent careers in comedy, television as well as the movies.

Arte Johnson was one such cast member who appeared as a variety of different characters
throughout the show’s 6 year run.
One such character was a recurring WWII German soldier who would pop up randomly and
apparently out of nowhere, usually emerging from behind some sort of fake plant,
after some silly sketch had taken place, with his running tagline always spoken in a very
heavy German accent…. “veeeeeeery interesting“…

There was no hidden meaning…just plain old silliness as Laugh-in’s humor was rooted in
the days of the early vaudeville and burlesque comedies.

After looking out the kitchen window yesterday afternoon and spying a rather odd shape
rummaging around behind a tree and the deer through my husband is currently
experimenting with…out back by the fence…
I quickly opted to grab my camera because somebody in this house has misplaced the
binoculars that I keep in the kitchen for just such an occasion when I need a quick look-see
at the visiting wildlife—and that somebody was not me.

There are four of us here.

One me, one husband and two cats.

I’ve ruled out the cats.

Zooming in the camera, I heard myself uttering that same long-forgotten tagline…
“veeeeery interesting”…
as in I now think I’ve discovered the culprit who yanked open the bird boxes,
pulled out the bluebird nests, grabbed all but one little blue egg and then devoured
nearly all of the apples from my once loaded apple trees.


(who’s little fury body is that down by the fence? / Julie Cook / 2018)


(my thief / Julie Cook / 2018)

I can’t say for certain that this is my theif…but the mask he’s wearing leaves little
room for any false accusations on my part…

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