There’s nothing like an internet outage in 2020 to make folks extra creative. While the world operates from their laptops and smartphones, ours were (and still are) out of commission. And I kind of like it.
Serendipitously, I had just brought home a treasure bag bulging with books from the library. We began with Alice Dalgiesh’s 1953 Newberry Honor Award children’s novella, The Bears on Hemlock Mountain. It’s a suspenseful story about a young boy making a trek to and from his aunt’s cabin. Are there bears or aren’t there bears, that is the looming question.
Also by happy chance, Saturday’s weather was stunningly beautiful. October in Kentucky, the rainbow of leaves against a low hanging sky, is more like an award-winning children’s book illustration than reality. We became tourists in our own backyard, lacing hiking boots for a trip to Jeffrey’s Cliffs. With options for three different trails, we trudged up the hill toward Morgan’s Cave.
“There are no bears on Jeffrey’s Cliffs.” A play on the story, my oldest smiled and huffed as his little legs went up the big hill. Crunch, crunch, crunch in the fallen leaves.
“There are no bears on Jeffwey’s Cliwfs.” The younger repeated, in rhythm with his quicker, shorter strides. Crunch, crunch, crunch.
“What do you mean? Of course, there are bears.”
Leave the fun to Dad.
Nervous giggles and hope for a preferably distant bear sighting raced through the boys. They searched high and low for signs of bears—paw prints or fur, even a big dog mess would’ve been celebrated as significant. Their search was quickly forgotten as we stepped into a clearing for our first real peek at Morgan’s Cave. Amazing.
We climbed all around the overhang, snapping pictures and making discoveries. Along with the few but steady number of sightseers, I noticed a lady with a kind smile watching the children. More than the magnificent cliffs, she was taken with the boys, perhaps reminiscing or missing her own.
“Perfect place for a black bear, isn’t it?” she asked. Excitement for my bunch grew grizzly size again, just as she must have anticipated.
As we made our way back, it was as if someone had told every visitor to ask the two boys in camo sweatshirts if they had seen any bears.
With our final crunch, crunch, crunch through the leaves, the boys gave their best roaring goodbyes. They were answered by what might have been a black bear. Or maybe it was a teenager.
For now, I’m happy with it all staying preferably distant—bears and those wild teenage years.