Coffee and Bears

This is an excerpt from chapter 3 of the book I’m working on.  Just a rough draft, but you get the idea.  Enjoy!

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When I arrived at Mary’s place, I had a wonderful visit.  Before we moved to Fort Babine, I was never really a big coffee drinker.  I could never understand the kind of people who could drink a whole pot in one morning all on their own.  Well, here I am all these years later and I am that person.  Sure, I can get by without it – I don’t get withdrawal symptoms if I don’t have it.  But I do enjoy a litre or two of the darkest brew imaginable on any given morning.  There’s a saying that “Coffee, like love, should be stronger than death.”  I learned that in Fort Babine and I blame it completely on Mary Michell.

At Mary’s house, I had the opportunity to ask lots of questions and get a few answers.  For instance, I asked her about how many people speak Babine (or Carrier as she called it).  According to Mary, quite a few still spoke it, most could understand it.  The young kids, however, were a different story.  Their level of comprehension and speaking ability was quite superficial, though it was taught in the school by a local woman.  Mary herself, like most adults in the village, was more fluent in Babine than in English (although her English was very good).  I also asked about other aspects of the traditional Babine culture.  She told me that many people still go to Burns Lake for potlatch feasts.

Her sons Lyle and Jason were also there that day and so I was able to meet them too.  Before I left, Mary forced me to eat three pieces of freshly fried bannock – very tasty!  Before I left, she made sure that I took home some more bannock for my family and some sockeye salmon.  I was thinking that I could get used to this place.

One of the things that took getting used to was the presence of bears.  That fall there was a young grizzly bear roaming around the village.  He usually showed up at night and would rummage through people’s garbage.  One evening over at our house, I ran into a black bear.  The building where we were staying had a loft and that was where I had my study set up.  However, to get up to the loft, I had to go outside and go to the stairs at the back of the house.  There were only the one set of outside stairs going up there.  There at the back of the house I saw him and he gave me quite a fright.  I remember camping in the Rocky Mountains as a kid and while the rest of my family was safely in the trailer, I had to sleep outside in a tent.  In bear country.  I heard sounds.  One time I was outside taking care of business and I was positive that I saw a bear and ran for the only building nearby – the bathrooms.  My dad heard the commotion and he came to get me and showed me “the bear.”  It was our portable barbeque sitting on the picnic table.  It was black and it was dark outside – it sure looked like a bear to me!  So, I have a history of bear frights.  My turn to frighten a bear or two was coming.

About Wes Bredenhof

Pastor of the Free Reformed Church, Launceston, Tasmania. View all posts by Wes Bredenhof

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