Here’s a story about living in a small community where people know their neighbors and fellow community members, and even when they don’t know each other well, they know them well enough to care.
It’s a personal story and as such this editor is slipping into the first person, bending a rule or two to do so.
While driving on Route 17 on the curves of the App Gap on June 9, I was horrified when a small bear (maybe a yearling, about 100 to 125 pounds) jumped over the guardrail on the left and into the road.
I was not going very fast, maybe 30 miles an hour, and was able to lock up the brakes but clipped the bear on its right side/right hip with a horrible thump. The bear rolled a few times and got up and jumped over the opposite guardrail and ran into the woods. I stopped and got out and listened as the bear thrashed up the hill.
The police were called, the incident was reported and the appropriate game warden was notified. It was sad and upsetting. No one ever wants to hit anything with their car, let alone a beautiful bear – marauder of bird feeders and screen doors from one end of the state to the other.
I told friends and coworkers about the bear, got the insurance organized and pulled out the few bear hairs stuck in the crack of the fender to save for whatever reason.
Arriving at work this Monday morning I found a voicemail message left on Saturday, June 16, from a Fayston woman who said that she heard I hit a bear and that I was feeling badly about it.
She went on to say that she wanted to let me know she’d just seen a bear in her backyard and that, despite a scrape on its right side, she wanted to reassure me that it looked very healthy. She left her cell phone number in case I had any questions.
Bears have a wide range of habitat and there’s no way to know for sure if the bear she saw was the bear I hit, but her call was above and beyond the call of duty.
Say what you will about living in a small town – call it cloying, call it incestuous, point out that everyone knows everyone else’s business – her call is the flipside of all those small-town negatives.
Her call was such an act of simple, kind thoughtfulness. To take the time to do that for someone you don’t know well but that you know because we all live here left me almost (but not quite) speechless. Thank you, neighbor.