Top Of The World Bear
I saw the Top of the World bear tonight. Kristin told me about it one morning after driving over the hill that used to be known as Old Whiteface. He's a handsome little guy, maybe a year old, still struggling to be a grownup. He was high on a steep bank, lined with a stone wall. I startled him as I jogged up the dirt road. The bear stumbled along the rock wall and bumbled down the bank onto the road.
He scurried across the road, trying to keep his balance, and momentum carried him up the bank on the right, but he couldn't get over the stone wall. It wasn't very high, but lording over the bank, it certainly seemed taller. The bear was frustrated and a little panicked and ran along the stone wall, looking for an escape. I kept jogging slowly, certain the adolescent bear had no interest in meeting me, and offered him some support. “C'mon bear!” I called.
Finally, the bear found a gap in the wall and squeezed through, his butt wiggling, his legs kicking. Then he was through and into the woods, off for Red Hill Pond or perhaps the bog not far beyond. “Good bear!” I yelled, as if he were a pet.
The road winds and climbs to the actual summit of Earth, where the Sandwich and Ossipee mountains can be admired with a lazy glance left and right. An old inn on the hill was nicknamed Top of the World and the rest is history. I ran by it, as I usually do, and down the other side – on to Image Hill, Wentworth Hill, and the long climb back to North Sandwich.
With each ascent, the sun was lower and lower, above and behind me, then at eye level, soon below me, and behind my house as I heeled it into the driveway, sweaty and satisfied, the cool twilight breeze hitting my chest and chilling me.
I liked that bear. I hope he isn't so goofy forever. I imagine I'll see him again someday, bounding gracefully along the wall, looking back at me with a mutual, humble respect and perhaps a flicker of whimsy in his wild eye.