Dangerspouse Rides Again

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Garage - Track

Oct. 15, 2003 - 4:06 a.m.


I figured I'd use that title, since no newspaper will have cause to the rest of the year.

But yeah, the cubs win one tonight.


Bear cubs.

Three of them, with Unwed Mommy Bear.

Did you know that bears in New Jersey are asphalt colored? You would think this is an evolutionary misstep, but I believe it makes good sense. The bears can curl up in the road and remain motionless, and the hunters will never find them. And they don't have to worry about traffic. If you hit a full grown bear in your car - even one of the "smaller" black bears that populate northern NJ - it's your car that becomes road kill, not the bear. Seriously. The day I moved into my mountain abode my neighbor hit a bear with his big ol' Buick, and had to buy a new big ol' Buick.

A few months ago I rounded a corner just in time to see a Ford Explorer broadside a big male, launching him over the guardrail and into a pond 20 feet away. The guy pulled over, I pulled over, and we both watched as the bear rose from the pond with a green wig of algae. He shook himself, gathered his senses, then hopped back over the guardrail and loped across the road to the woods on the other side.

That Explorer was doing 40, easy, at impact. It ended up snub-nosed a bit, but had one of those crash-bar rigs on the front that kept it from being totalled.

My aluminum foil bodied Subaru wouldn't stand a chance.

And this morning, on my way to work, I almost pegged FOUR of them.

Like I said, they are absolutely asphalt colored. I was so close before I saw them that I smelled them first. Add to that my usual razor sharp reflexes at 2am when I'm leaving for work, and it's a wonder I'm not shopping for a used Schwinn today to get around on. PLUS it was raining, with trailer-flipping winds.

But I swerved, wildly, when I saw the first one just feet from my fog lamps. The swinging arc of light picked up the second cub, then the Mom. Cub #3 wisely decided to hang back and watch the fate of his siblings before crossing, like those penguins that push some of their bretheren off the ice floe to see if any Killer Whales lie in wait. Smart cub - he'll be the one to live long enough to ride a tricycle in a circus.

Meanwhile I stopped. Breathing. The Subaru's Beauty of All Wheel Drive kept me from careening into the tree that Momma directed the cubs to climb. She kept vigil at the base, standing, her set of steak knives at the end of each adorable paw at the ready. I let her sweat for a minute while I watched, until I realized she wasn't sweating. She was salivating.

I moved along, folks. Nothing to see there.

Now I'm at work.

The promised tale of torture will be hammered out shortly. If only for my own closure....

Bear with me.

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