Monday, June 27, 2011

Grizzly Belles

            Scarlett O’Hara wasn’t a total princess.  She stood in the barren fields of Tara with her sad little radish and declared before God that she would never be hungry again.  Before the Civil War, Scarlett didn’t look like she could be bothered to lift so much as a piece of paper which made her fighting and clawing to stay alive all the more impressive in the end. 

Such is the essence of a Diamond Magnolia:  We is gorgeous, but we kick ass.

            Most of the time.

            I can tough it out with the best of them when the situation calls for it (I’ve quit counting how many hurricanes and resulting power outages I’ve lived through), but I’m not afraid to tell you that I like my creature comforts very much...very much indeed.

            As I moved toward the end of my elementary school education, I attended summer camp in the mountains of North Carolina for three years.  It wasn’t exactly the lap of luxury.  The cabins had screen windows and one had to take an outdoor excursion to the latrines and the showers.  Even those meager comforts were denied us when we were required to camp out for one night during every two week camp experience. 

Camp time was hard core:  We didn’t even get tents.  During one of those torturous evenings, I couldn’t sleep for all of the damned wildlife noises, so I dragged my sleeping bag close to the gurgling stream.  The stream helped me sleep until I rolled over into it.  Those scenic little mountain streams don’t ever warm up all that much. 

I have participated in a smattering of camping trips since that time.  On one trip—much to the irritation of my “roughing it” companions—I took a battery powered television because I was damned if I was going to miss Carolina play Duke in March Madness.  As a matter of fact, I remain unrepentant about that particular decision to this very day.

 I’ve nearly sweated into a puddle and I’ve practically frozen my tushie off.  I’ve gotten powerful hungry when the only thing to eat was hot dogs roasted over the fire and I hate cylindrical, over-processed meats.  (A girl cannot live on s’mores alone...although I’ve tried.)

Then came the nail in the coffin:  Grizzly Bears.

I’m a gal who prefers the History Channel, the Discovery Channel and the National Geographic Channel to WE and Hallmark and all of that.  Of course, my preferences are not without their drawbacks:  Thanks to Deadliest Catch, I can’t decide if I should eat crab legs in support of those dudes working their fingers to the bone to catch the little buggers or if I should avoid them in protest of the rough conditions of the workers.  I also learned entirely too much about bears.  Bears are really mean.

Of course, bears have every right to be mean.  We’re the folks that are encroaching on their territory.  We can’t go all up in our nation’s amazing national parks with our Twinkies and Doritos and expect a bear to find a trout that it would actually have to work to catch more enticing.  Of course, the aforementioned statement is one of my many reasons for not camping.  We don’t want to make things harder on the bears.  Uh-huh.

It’s those damned documentaries they broadcast about bear attacks:  World’s Deadliest Bear Attacks, World’s Goriest Bear Attacks, Grizzly Terror!  They contain interviews of folks with no arms, no legs, missing everything below the belly button or the sobbing family of the dearly departed that describe bite-by-bite and claw-by-claw how they were scattered, smothered, covered and chunked as they quietly minded their own business in their tent one night.  

The reenactments they do during those documentaries are really swell, too.  They start off showing an unsuspecting little camper walking through the woods and then the narrator (who always sounds like the guy they use for the movie previews) says, “It appeared to be a perfect day in the woods of Montana and camper John Higgins was determined to make the best out of it.  [cue the dramatic music]  HE HAD NO IDEA OF THE HORROR THAT AWAITED DOWN THIS PRISTINE NATURE PATH.”

Cut to the actor whistling a jaunty tune and loping along with his walking stick until he sees...a bear cub!  Oh crap!  Even the most dedicated city dweller can tell you that getting between a bear cub and a mama bear is not a good life insurance policy.

Cut to dizzying flashes of fur and claws and fangs with the occasional human appendage smattered with blood.  The director might even get really artsy and add a shot of blood splashing across a tree trunk.

Of course, you must remember that we are talking about National Geographic, after all.  They have to keep their cred lest they become nothing more than a When Animals Attack Volume XVII on TruTV.  Accordingly, they throw in some half-hearted afterthought about bear safety precautions and tips on what to do during a bear attack, but we all know that if one gets unlucky enough to find themselves in such a situation, they are screwed, glued and tattooed.  Sayonara little camper.

            “They” tell you that running from a bear is not an option and “they” are not kidding.  One ran across the road in front of me and Scott when we were up near the Pamlico Sound and it was so quick that I barely registered what it was.

            So, thank you, National Geographic.  Thank you for traumatizing me about bears to the point that I simply don’t believe that I will ever be able to camp again.  (No—really—thank you.)

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