There have been numerous reports of bear sightings in the south metro recently.
Perhaps this is due to the unusual winter this year, which may be causing the animals to forage over larger areas to find food.
These reports put me in mind of an incident that occurred years ago when I was living in Duluth.
It was not uncommon for black bears to come down out of the hills in the fall looking for food to prepare them for the coming winter. They sometimes found residential neighborhoods to be prime forage ground.
Night comes early to the northland in autumn, and the bitter winds begin to blow like the first breath of winter.
It was on such a night that Deano and Julie decided to venture forth from their house on the edge of town to procure a delicious Sammy’s pizza. Their cupboard was bare and Deano was hungry. A dedicated trencherman in any circumstances, he, like the bears, felt the need to consume extra calories in preparation for the long, dark months ahead.
The house in which they lived was set into the side of the hill above downtown Duluth. They occupied the upstairs apartment, and their entrance was at the back of the house at the termination of a dead-end street.
Julie reached the door first, and had taken only one step out when she leaped back in and slammed the door.
“A bear!” she exclaimed.
Deano stepped to the door and carefully lifted the corner of the red and white checked curtain. As he peered out into the semi-darkness, he confirmed that the awful news was true.
The bruin was rummaging among the metal garbage cans lined up in the shadow along the back of the house, as if they were a buffet for bears.
“What are we going to do?” Deano wailed. “We’re trapped, and I need that pie or I will starve.”
Deano was a man prone to exaggeration when it came to his dietary requirements.
He paced back and forth in the tiny kitchen pausing occasionally to go to the door and peer out the window. Before long, he had hatched an evil plan.
“Call and have the pizza delivered!” he roared triumphantly.
“I’ll call, but I’m not going to the door when it gets here,” Julie said. She dialed the familiar number and placed the order.
Deano went and sat in his favorite easy chair, rubbing his hands together with glee, and smiling as he thought of how clever he was.
After what seemed like an eternity to Deano, for he did not like to wait for his meals, there was a frantic knocking at the back door.
Deano tried to get Julie to answer it, but she refused and hid around the corner in the living room.
Deano reluctantly went to the door and opened it a crack.
“P-p-p-izza d-delivery. Did you know you’ve got a b-b-b-bear out here?” the pizza boy stammered, his eyes wide with terror.
“Really?” Deano said feigning concern. He peered past the delivery boy. “I guess you’re right.”
“Will you let me in?” the boy asked urgently, pressing himself tighter against the door.
“No. I’m sure you’ll be wanting to get on your way, and he probably won’t hurt you,” Deano said reassuringly.
“But he’s hungry, and he’s smelled this hot, fresh pizza,” the boy wailed.
“Gimme that pie!” Deano commanded, handing over the money, oblivious to the boy’s plight.
With a quick look over his shoulder in the direction of the garbage cans, the boy snatched the money, shoved the pizza into Deano’s outstretched hand, and fled in the direction of the street.
Presently, the revving of an engine and the squeal of tires could be heard out in the darkness, and then silence descended upon the scene once again.
Inside the apartment, Deano chuckled as he opened the pizza box and prepared for his feast.
“He’ll probably throw his apron on the counter and quit the delivery business as soon as he gets back to the restaurant,” Deano commented happily. “But at least we got our pizza pie.”