Visitors, Welcome and Otherwise

In the last week or so we’ve seen a lot of visitors on the homestead. Most were welcome, even expected. One other was neither.

Just after Independence Day, we welcomed relatively new friends making their second visit here, along with their son, who has recently moved to Haines. We’d anticipated their visit for a few months, ever since they told us of their plans to return to Haines. We had an excellent evening with them. We even sampled some of the homestead wines.

A second group of visitors came as more of a surprise, although neighbors had informed us of their coming—or, more precisely, one key member of the group. The wife of the couple that had built our homestead dropped in for a visit on the way back from a music festival in Canada, which she attended with some friends from her new hometown, Tenakee Springs.

We have communicated with the original owners over the years via email, but had never met them. This was a long-anticipated visit, as we hoped that they would one day return. Unfortunately, Michelle and Aly both work in town right now, so both were away from home. Also, I was very sick, and not at the top of my game.

Nevertheless, the visit, when it came, was excellent. Not only did I have the pleasure of welcoming her back to her old home, but two of the other members of her party are friends of mine. My brother and his wife lived in Tenakee Springs for many years. We visited there often, making friends and serving as home base for some of them when they visited Juneau. One of the visitors, it surprises me to realize, we’ve know for at least 14 years! When we greeted each other, they commented on how good I looked since the last time we’d seen each other, which was back when we lived in Juneau. Even in the full clutches of the flu, I’m improved over that life, it would seem.

On Saturday evening, friends from town popped out for an impromptu dinner, further increasing our guest count.

The final “guest” has been in and out since the morning after the first friends came for dinner. We noticed a bin of empty plastic containers had been upended in such a way that the wind could not have. Several days later, our newest compost bin got rummaged through, and a bucket of compost standing nearby got split apart.

We seem to have a bear.

When we examined the plastics bin, we found one very faint print that could have been made by a small bear. We saw no other sign until the morning we found the bucket torn open. That bucket was so badly degraded by age and sunlight that we could reasonably believed that a couple of ravens, with the right amount of interest, effort, and circumstance, might have broken it apart in that particular way, but it looked more as if a bear had pulled it open to look inside.

The best evidence appeared at the entrance to the trail out, just past the outhouse. I found a line of small bear scat, apparently deposited at a run. I imagine one of us startled it in the wee hours as we stepped outside for a necessary trip.

bear sign

Somebody left in a hurry, and dropped something on the way (Photo: Mark Zeiger).

Michelle examined the scat with a stick, and found it mostly full of grass, which makes it seem likely that it is a bear. If so, all indications are that it’s a small one, probably a black bear no bigger than a German shepherd. It could be a whole lot worse, but even a small bear can be problematic, particularly here on our peninsula, which offers very little in the way of proper bear food. Hopefully, it’ll soon move on to where the fish are running. Likely, we’ll never actually see it. But, we are on guard more than usual, for the moment.

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