My grandfather was half-scholar, half-lumber jack
Always a beard, a notebook, and a pair of binoculars
Usually a four wheel drive

which we climbed up into one fading fall afternoon to go look at bears.

High up, watching over, not a typical ten year old’s view
Rumbling down small stone roads, next to a big stone river.

Green grass canopy, doe and fawn dart off into the brush
to an excavation scar cut into a hillside, now filled with black vinyl bags.

Face pressed to the window, “Look! Those bags are moving” said innocently.

“Those aren’t bags but the rounded haunches of black bears” said along with his full laugh

and they were, too.

Passing the binoculars, he said,  “When the bears are in the garbage, there is no cure.”

Bears in the garbage –
Forget about the forest – 
On the branch, berries.

-a haibun poem

Bears in the Garbage

Image: KL Beasley

I read this poem today in conclusion to a mini-keynote address on balance and technology to approximately 125 teachers at Renaissance College in Hong Kong.

It was inspired by an actual trip to look at the bears in the early 80s that I took with my grandfather in his 4wd Chevy Blazer somewhere in Maine. While I was old enough to have this memory set, I was too young to remember exactly where. The story was brought to mind by and adapted from the final line of a Gary Snyder poem entitled, “Could she see the whole real world with her ghost breast eyes shut under a blouse lid?” that finishes with the line, “Once a bear gets hooked on garbage there’s no cure”.  Bear CC image –