(An excerpt from the writing class)

In the pre-dawn hours Jim was awakened by sounds in the front part of our Rocky Mountain cabin. He got up and closed the door between the front and back halves of the cabin. We'd planned all summer to oil the hinges because of the loud creaking sound each time we opened or closed that door, but never got to it (it probably spared us a face to face confrontation). I joined Jim at the "noisy" door, and we listened for about four minutes until no movements were heard. I carefully opened the door enough to see our lidded kitchen trash container upended with its contents strewn across the kitchen and living room floors. I knew then--with surprising relief-that the intruder was not human!

I'd left a front room window open about six inches. We walked into the living room and saw the window screen had been torn away, and two panes of glass were shattered, probably as the intruders squeezed through the narrow opening. Likely frightened by the loud sound of the closing door, our uninvited visitor exited the same way it had entered. Broken glass shards covered the sofa positioned below that window. We walked to the back bedroom windows and saw a mother bear with her two cubs ambling down the slope beyond our deck.

We'd read in the local newspaper-the Trail Gazette- there'd been a great increase in bear activity in Estes Park, with 35 break-ins by 'beargulars' in just over two weeks' time. The wildlife experts report that with climate change and increasing development, bears are not finding their usually available wild foods. Human careless behavior-like my own-is pushing bears to find alternative food sources. Fortunately, none of the 35 incidents reported bear aggression toward their unwitting human hosts. Jim repaired our broken windows while I cleaned up the trash, glass, and bear slobber. All windows were shut tight at night for the remainder of our stay!

-Barbara Mathieu