Wow, cool title huh? I bet you think I’m gonna talk about bear attacks and stuff – ah, sort of…
The other day one of our student workers was covering the front desk for our receptionist and she was reading a book about the “grizzly man”. Have you heard this story? The guy who “lived” with bears for like 16 summers in Alaska before being mauled to death by a rogue bear. Anyway, it got me thinking about my very own experiences with grizzlies and I thought I’d share a few with you.
My first job out of college and out of the police / ranger academy was working front country patrol in the St. Mary district at Glacier National Park in Montana. I’m looking pretty spiffy here in my outfit, ain’t I? Oh yes, me and all the newbies there that season thought we were IT! Fresh from the academy, ready to arrest everybody for anything. That’s a whole other story. And an amusing one. But this post is about bears. One morning, I was opening up the road –( if you’ve ever been to Glacier, the “Going to the Sun” road closes at night to keep people from driving it and dying. Seriously, scary road. It has some serious drop off that if you were to just veer off ever so slightly, “see ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya!”. ) Anyway, first thing in the morning, I drive up to Logan Pass, open up the gates, check everything out, started to come back down and STOP! Smack in the center of the road, right on the double yellow lines, a steaming pile of bear poop. Really?! I mean, really?! What was that bear thinking? “I’m crossing the road, wait…I feel the urge, I’ll stop right here in the center of the road and ahhhh, yes. Much better. Moving along now…” That bear had to have been just feet away. I kept waiting to see how long it would take for someone to drive through it and it was like a good hour and a half before I found it smeared across the road.
Within the first 10 days I was there at Glacier, one of the kids working concessions in my district was out late at night, a no-no, down by the lake – you know, where the bears like to hang out, and was mauled. A bear just picked her up and her friend made a bunch of noise and turned on the flashlight. The bear dropped her and she was fine but for the rest of the summer at parties, she’d lift her shirt and say, “wanna see my scars?”. I mean, who wouldn’t?! Get mauled by a bear and have cool scars and an awesome story to tell for – ever. Ok, the responsible ranger in me says I shouldn’t say that’s cool but you ranger types out there – you know it is!
There were actually 4 maulings the season I was there. The last one I had, the guy worked at the hospital in Kalispell. He didn’t want to fly out – most injuries we had of a somewhat critical nature would be flown out because our closest hospital was like an hour plus drive. So, he convinced the ER doc to let his buddy drive him to the hospital and he’d drink water all the way in lieu of an IV we had started. Mind you, at this point, the sow he surprised with her cub had put at least 3 good puncture wounds into his back and he had all this fluid building up around the wounds. He said he wanted to use the restroom before he got on the road and we got him up and down he went. I was holding c-spine on him and when came to, he looked at me and said, “Sorry – I thought I was ok”. I said, “That’s ok, the chopper just landed” and he laughed a bit. He knew all the flight nurses and he was in great hands. The flight nurses have a special bear patch on their flight suits. Each time they pick up a mauling victim, they get a paw print added on. One of the nurses was so excited and told her buddy, our patient, “you just earned me my very first bear patch!”. He was happy to oblige and honestly, as with all our mauling victims, all of them were nothing but loving towards the bear that had hurt them. They knew that in one way or another, they had unintentionally caused the bear to defend itself and they actually felt privileged to have had the experience and live to tell about it.
That was probably the best ranger job I ever had. I worked in law enforcement for over 12 years and worked for national, state and municipal parks. But Glacier with its million acres of wilderness, search and rescues, drug arrests, bear incidents and in general, weird little enforcement incidents that went on, was just a blast. Never boring. Never the same thing. Wildlife and mountain top views were breathtaking and amazing every single day. Besides the four maulings we had, we also had a plane crash, several search and rescues, lots of wildlife incidents including a bear capture for a rogue bear, a wildfire, a kidnapping…there was always something.
My husband would like to retire in Montana and so I imagine, when he does in about 3 years, we’ll start thinking about heading west…for the summers at least for a bit. I’m still pretty partial to Ohio. Love Montana but it IS a different world. When I first arrived, I found out there was no speed limit during daylight hours, you could drink and drive – just not be intoxicated, and you could carry a firearm just about anywhere you wanted to. You talk about culture shock for a Midwesterner girl from the suburbs. Ha! But it was truly, truly awesome.
Maybe I’ll share some more ranger stories another time.
On the sewing front, still working on new designs. Had a wonderful customer request a special backpack for a trip to Disney. (this is like her 3rd bag from me in two months!) Darn backpacks! I really need to just break down and buy a pattern but NO…I do everything from scratch and then go NUTS trying to figure it out. I determined, there is NO way to put it together with the zipper and all and NOT have seams show on the inside. Can’t be done? Right? Or can it? If you know of a way – for the love of Pete – please tell me! After calling upon my friend Barb for “a sewing emergency”, we decided to just serge the inside seams and I used bias tape on parts of it. The outside looks cute anyway! The inside was fine too but I’m a perfectionist so to my eye, eh, it was just ok.
And I redesigned my St. Mary Hipster. Same issue. Gussets, zippers – we don’t work well together. So I ditched the gusset panel. We are all much happier now and I rather like this bag. This is one of two bags that are orders from my girls teacher.
I know, you are wondering – “so what about Quilt Market?”, did you get signed?! New fabric line coming from Trish? Yeah, touchy subject, ok. I had three companies respond strongly to my work, made requests for original sketches and to see some things worked into a virtual quilt and other requests. I heard back from one company thus far who said they loved my stuff – and it was too similar to some new things they have coming out. But they invited me to resubmit because they said they were impressed with my work and they’d like to see more. Ok. Then the other two – still no word. Had positive remarks about what I sent and was told I’d be hearing from them soon but no word. They say no news is good news. I’m thinking that’s not the case here. I realize it’s not been quite a month yet but…I’m reading about others who were also at market and already signed, I’m thinking this was not my time. Everybody told me, it takes 2 or 3 tries or more to get into the industry. SO…I’m still working away on some new sketches, digitizing them, and working everything into small groups within an entire collection. I presented “everything” I had originally but I didn’t have it grouped or put into colorways even though I had a color palette selected and shown. I showed everything by patterns. It was beautiful but I think hard to imagine in a collection. The work, the prayers, the hopes, the dreaming at night, the desire continues. I’d be lying to say it doesn’t bother me one way or the other but it does. I really want to move in this direction. And I just will continue to pray and listen and be patient. When the time is right, everything will come together. I want it NOW but it’s not up to me. I did only hit up like 5 or so companies so there are other options…I’ll keep shopping my stuff around. Keep up prayers for me, for my family. It’s a complicated, time consuming, money consuming, emotionally draining process. Pick me ups much appreciated. And I’d be glad to return the favor…
Our house is enjoying the first bits of harvest – carrots and sugar snaps. Hope you’re enjoying good stuff too.