Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Murphy & the Bear

The Navajo have a name for wintertime when they perform their ceremonials: “The Season When the Thunder Sleeps.”

With that in mind, I’ve decided to name summertime “The Season When Tom and Julie Don’t Sleep.”

For the past few weeks, we have been plagued by a bear trying to get into our dumpster in the middle of the night. Ever vigilant, Murphy the Lodgedog nightly has been pitching six fits at about three in the morning when the critter starts to rattle the dumpster. 

This is a smaller and younger bear than the one the size of an Escalade that got into our neighboring lodge a couple of summers ago, broke into their walk-in freezer, and ate all their ice cream.

But though young, he’s already gotten in trouble before. About a week ago, Murphy started barking, roused us out of sleep, and I shambled down to the storeroom to turn on the outside light to see what the matter was. Julie shouted down from the balcony, “Tom! Don’t open the door! There’s a bear out there!” So naturally, I opened to door, and sure enough there was a bear on the other side of the road from the dumpster. He boasted a white ear-tag: a sure sign that the Division of Wildlife had already had at least one run-in with him.

I was so mad at being awakened in the middle of the night that I stood there in bare feet and boxer shorts, waved my arms and shouted, “Get outta here! Go on! Git!”

The bear looked surprised, said, “Whoaaa?” and ran up the mountain.

Murphy was beside herself. She literally could not stop barking, and for the rest of the night, the slightest noise would set her off. 

It has been like that every night since. We haven’t been this sleep-deprived since our son was a collicky infant and I briefly considered drowning him in the bathtub.

Just last night, Murphy went off again. We didn’t see the bear this time, and I briefly wondered if it might be our neighborhood evil raccoon, but this morning the dumpster had been moved, so it was clear that the bear had been back. 

Since we seem unable to convince Murphy to be a less-ambitious watchdog, it’s time to start filling balloons with a dilute ammonia solution and putting them on the lid of the dumpster. Bears, whose sense of smell is tremendous--even better than that of dogs--do not like the smell of ammonia, so perhaps if our bear gets a whiff of the stuff, he’ll leave us alone.

If not, just about the time it becomes The Season When the Thunder Sleeps and the bear goes into hibernation, it will also be The Season When Tom and Julie Sleep, as well.