Eyes in the Dark !

The Scholl Bus has been parked at the Hutchings place for about a month and a half now.  I have been enjoying getting up every morning and looking at the old engines all around me, I feel right at home here in the mountains.  The property adjoins the Pisgah National Forrest, there are large hemlock trees all around with a green carpet of rhododendrons below.  I grew up coming to the Antique Engine Show every June, which has been held here for 41 years now.  The bus is parked beside the bathroom facilities, so it is very convenient for nice cool spring-fed showers (and helps reduce the need for Vinyl Alligators in cases of emergency).

Without AC in the bus, I have been waiting until late at night before I shower so I can remain cool enough to go to sleep.  I have also been capturing insects in the night light on the bathroom building before I go to bed.  One particular night, around 11:00, I had just finished my shower and threw my towel over my shoulder to head back to the bus.  I stopped to see what types of insects had been attracted to the night light when I heard some fallen limbs cracking in the dark woods a few yards away.  I took my shower supplies back to the bus and grabbed my 18 volt Dewalt flashlight and my iPhone to see if I could capture some video or photos of a deer or raccoon.

I slowly walked back around the bathrooms and up the hill toward the origin of the sounds.  I stood still with the flashlight scanning the brush for anything that might be moving.  A few minutes passed, then beneath some rhododendron another limb cracked.  I aimed my flashlight at the source, and there they were.  Two glowing eyes, unblinking, and fixed on me.  They were too high off of the ground to belong to a raccoon, and not spaced correctly for a deer.  That is when the sinking feeling came over me that they may belong to a mountain lion and all I had was a cell phone and a flashlight.  Just as this thought struck, the eyes began coming down the hill very slowly toward me, never breaking their long stare.  I fumbled with my phone, but could not seem to get it into video mode to record my battle with the beast should it come to that.  It could have proven to be a great advertisement video for either Dewalt or my LifeProof case for sure.  It slowly walked down the mountain, close enough I could see it was a good sized black bear.  It came down and stood beside a large hemlock and watched me, we were only around 30 feet apart at this point.  The breeze, blowing down the mountain, brought the most interesting smell to my nose.  The best way for me to describe the smell would be that of a hot billy goat.  If you have been around goats at all, you now that is not a pleasant odor.

We stared at each other for what seemed like hours, then I heard something else behind the rhododendrons.  What had to be a cub began calling very softly, which made her (I assume) turn and look up the mountain briefly.  Then another soft call, there were at least two just beyond where I could see with my very diffused light.  She did not show any sign of aggression, so I began to walk backward very slowly.  I made it back to the bus, heart pounding, without any further incidents.  I began to think about why she would be coming down here.  Then I remembered that during the engine show a few weeks earlier, we had a small grinder on display with a 50 lb. bag of corn sitting beside it.  I noticed a few days prior that the bag was no longer there, I had just assumed that someone had moved it to a storage location.  I began to realize that she may have carried it off and was looking for some additional easy food.

The next day, I asked Mr. Hutchings if he had moved the corn.  His reply, “I thought you did” answered a lot of questions.  I now listen and look for signs of her anytime I am outside the bus.  We are going to be more careful about leaving anything outside that she might mistake for food.  As long as she doesn’t show any signs of aggression and appears to be a normal bear, she is welcome around here.  I do not want to have to introduce her to The Judge…

A side note:  I think it is very appropriate one of the engines here is a Black Bear, I would love to get her picture beside it.  Maybe we should get a couple Farmall Cub tractors to display beside the engine for a little twist…







One response to “Eyes in the Dark !”

  1. Kristi Miller Avatar
    Kristi Miller

    This is too good. You are an excellent descriptive writer my E-Joe. Proud to be your sis. P.S. We are in an official bug war challenge…Keep your tallies for insects.

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