Pioneer Potluck: About bears and people

Driving from Anchorage to Nikiski

I was “bombing” along in my old green L.T.D., radio blaring, arm out the open window so I could feel the cool mountain air. It was a wonderful warm August Sunday, alone as this was a long time ago in my “other life.”

I had spent the weekend in Anchorage, visiting with old friends and two daughters. This was my usual thing to do since I had moved back to Nikiski. Susan lived in Chugiak at that time and Gail lived in Eagle River. I’d had a great time visiting and it was time to head home and go back to work in the morning. The trip usually took me three or four hours. Turnagain Pass was beautiful with the trees just starting to turn a nice shade of yellow and orange. The fireweed and the wildflowers were in the last stages of bloom.

I came into the open stretch just out of Summit Lake with its spans of open meadows and tall pines and birch. What a nice day and what a nice time I had visiting with my daughters and friends. I was reminiscing and day dreaming. I rounded a curve, looking forward to the next open meadow that I was sure was full of blooming wild flowers.

I slowed way down and was creeping along taking my time, looking at the wonders of fall, when in the distance I spotted a “big something!” I glanced at the road and back at the “something.” It was the BIGGEST brownie (grizzly) I had ever seen! I could not take my eyes off him! He stood up and looked at me (more of a glare) and I thought OH NO! I have my window open! I rolled up the window, locked the doors and took

off like a shot out of a cannon!

I final came to my senses about a half mile down the road, going at least 80 mph! I started to laugh. That poor bear never knew what was going on. He was high up in the meadow, probably 200 yards away. He probably thought “look at that crazy lady rolling up her windows and speeding off like I was gonna eat her! She didn’t look that tender and it’s SO funny how I scared her!” I could not keep from laughing all the way home, every time I thought how I reacted at seeing a big grizzly.

To this day I still look for that big “grizz” every time we go by that same spot, and start to laugh at myself all over again.

Bear Story number 2

1970’s Nikiski, Alaska

My friend Leatha Earll and her family had just moved out of a trailer court and moved to land they bought on Lamplight Road.

All moved and settled, they cleared off a place for her to plant a big garden for the growing family. She planted her garden, working hard at keeping it growing. She scooting her youngest out the door with instructions, “Go play, and don’t go very far from the door!” She got out her ironing board, then glanced out the window to check on her son. The little 4-year-old was playing in the garden with a black bear stalking him about 10 yards away.

She grabbed the loaded gun her husband had left for her beside the door, ran out on the steps and screamed at her little boy, “Lay down!” She honed in on the bear with her loaded rife and shot him dead! One shot! I got a phone call from her, in full hysteria — “Annie-Annie can you come over quick …. I just shot a bear.” I said, “Is he dead?” She said, “Yes, yes, dead-dead.” And then she started to cry.

By the time I got to her place, her husband and all the friends in the neighborhood were there “taking care of the bear.” Leatha was still laughing and crying and relishing the fact that her husband told her she was a good shot!

THE REASON FOR THIS LAST STORY: There seems to be more than the usual amount of bears in and around houses and subdivisions this year.

THEY ARE ATTRACTED TO LITTLE KIDS — They are hungry and they will stalk and grab your child if you DO NOT WATCH THEM EVERY MINUTE THEY ARE OUT DOORS. PLEASE DON’T LET YOU CHILDREN OUT DOORS UNLESS YOU CAN BE WITH THEM! And teach them to be aware of their surroundings. This time of year is the worst! Be careful.

The Pioneer Potluck series is written by 50-year resident of Alaska, Ann Berg of Nikiski. Ann shares her collections of recipes from family and friends. She has gathered recipes for more that 50 years. Some are her own creation. Her love of recipes and food came from her mother, a self-taught wonderful cook. She hopes you enjoy the recipes and that the stories will bring a smile to your day. Grannie Annie can be reached at an- ninalaska@gci.net.

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