How NOT to rewild

Sometimes I do stupid shit. You can read about my stupid shit doing and maybe skip doing it yourself.

I was walking along the most beautiful river in the world, but I wasn’t paying attention. I don’t remember what I was thinking about, but it had nothing to do with what was around me. After a while I got tired of walking. It was distracting me from my very important thoughts. So I sat down in the mud with my back to what is the river’s cut bank when the water runs higher. I was right on a trail to the water, but I didn’t look to see what kind of animals might use the trail or consider that they would land on my head if they came over the bank.

I sat for a long time and watched the river and my thoughts went all around in circles. Suddenly everything was quiet. I held my breath and looked around. There was a noise on the other side of the river. It sounded like a moose sounds when their antlers hit a tree, but since when does everything go all silent for a moose. Probably there was a bear on the other side of the river, I decided. I’d just sit still and wait to see if it came out of the trees. So I sat and my thoughts wandered back to wherever they were for a while.

Eventually my thoughts came back to me and I realized everything was still quiet. This is a bad time of year for bears, too. Maybe I should go up the bank and back in the woods a little bit so that I could see the bear on the other side of the river without it seeing me. So, without paying any particular attention to what I was doing, I stood up and turned around to climb the bank behind me.

Just as the bear came over it.

I have never been so close to, or afraid of, a bear in my whole life.

It was huge. And it was, you know, standing on a bank directly above me.

It stood up and did some posturing and being big. I stood there and tried to think of what to do besides standing there.

After a while it came down to all fours and ambled away a bit. Then turned and rushed back towards me. I waved my hands above my head and took a few steps back. It stopped and stared at me, like, “what the fuck kind of animal is that?” I clapped my hands very loud and made that sound I can make with my mouth almost like a gun, and it ran away a little bit.

Just a little bit, though, and it followed me almost all the way back to the van, at a distance.

That night I dreamed a bear killed me and a lynx came and sat on me and licked my wounds while an owl sat on top of it who-ing.


  1. I dunno Tara, looks like the perfect rewilding to me. Great dream too. It’s a power story. Don’t native cultures have similar stories, of people not paying attention, or of doing People things, and nature offering a teaching or an opportunity to engage with power? I don’t want to negate the scariness or the seriousness of the situation… the closer you get to that the stronger the opportunity. btw, did you run back to the van or walk or what?

  2. I’m floored, Tara. I lost my breath reading that. I can only imagine how much more breathless I’d have been if I had actually been there, or experienced what you did.

    Glad you’re well. Watch yourself, sister. I want to actually meet you someday, you know? Take care …

  3. ‘m very glad you’re still with us to tell us about it!

    I love reading your stories about Alaska, though- it makes me want to move up there. (And then I remember how much I loathed the cold of New England and change my mind again.) But the people and places sound so wonderful it might be worth it.

  4. ……And to think, I logged on for stripper drama / and got real-gripping, life-threatening “Deadliest Catch” kind of drama! …I just love your imagery- in tenth grade as I read My Anonia by Willa Cather, I would highlight all of her most wonderful imageries, go back and reread and study them, to understand and learn how to put them together… You are a master at this, may I say…..and to bring us back to reality- I, too, am incredibly happy you figured out how to stay with us in this world (quick thinking about the gun noises!)

  5. wooo, I am a city gal. I would’ve dropped dead right there. Handguns going off in the night? Insane Drivers? That I can deal with…Bears? Oh no. Uh uh. They would have found my terrified to death corpse in the river!

  6. I found your blog from and You are SO Inspiring! I love what Kate had to say about this. That is a mighty powerful dream and experience you had. Way to be.

  7. Hey … if Hatma, the Mistress of the Mercurial, the Duchess of Dubious Decisions, is impressed, I sure am. Hatma could handle a bear more readily if it were 4 AM and the Yogi tried to take the last real estate flyer in out front of a choice property — then THE BEAR WOULD BE IN SERIOUS TROUBLE!

  8. Awesome. I’ve had a few run-ins with bears, but nothing that close. My car was broken into for a half-eaten peanut butter sandwich. Bears stink! I did cross paths with a cougar (the feline variety, not the divorced 40 something) and realized as I ran up the bank to peer over the edge at a crouched and cornered mountain lion, “um, that’s a big fucking cat.”

    Back away slowly.

    Nice post 😉

  9. Wow. I think the fact that he trailed you back to your van had less to do with property-staking and more to do with picnic-basket-staking. You are one lucky gal.

    So, I’m not sure I’ve found this topic discussed yet on your blog, but after viewing the splendor of your surroundings in your photographs it gave me pause to wonder, how does one live in a van in Alaska during the winter?

    Your stories are mesmerizing. I’m sitting in my comfortable little beach bungalow in Florida, sipping some Yogi tea, and I can’t help but be envious.

    Keep on keepin’ on.

  10. Kate, thanks for the interperetation. You’re right, of course. And I walked back to the van. Slowly, with much clapping of hands and stuff.

    Ha, Ryan I have a bear peanut butter story too. Maybe I’ll post it someday.

    Tamara, this wasn’t a part of alaska where bears know about picnic basket staking. I think bears tend to be very curious and not very good at de-escalating confrontations. Not that I’m an expert or anything.

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