Do you know what to do if you are approached by a bear in the woods?
I do, thanks to my Great Uncle Wayne.
My cousin and I were probably 14 or 15 at the time and we were spending time up north with my up north family. My Great Uncle Wayne was asking what we did in our free time and I happened to mention that I liked to run. For a man who grew up hunting animals, farming livestock and grain, and working from sun up to sun down, the idea of running through the woods to relax clearly had him a bit perplexed. Never one to be judgmental, he asked me if I ever had any run-ins with wild animals. I told him we would see birds, frogs, and squirrels frequently, and ever so often, we would see a few deer.
“What about bears?” he asked with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye.
“N..n….no…” I replied, a bit taken aback by the question. In my mind, I was wondering if he understood what I meant by ‘forest’ and ‘woods.’ These were pedestrian-infested areas with just a few more trees and insects than my backyard contained.
“Well I should probably tell you what to do in case you ever see a bear.” He stood up out of his chair. His tone got more serious.
I’m pretty sure my eyes were bulging out of their sockets at this point, or I was smiling in disbelief. One or the other was surely happening.
He started, “When you first spot the bear, it is important not to make eye contact because the bear will think you are challenging it to a fight. Then you need to make yourself look big. Like this.”
He waved his arms back and forth, as if he was doing some sort of anti-bear jumping jacks. The story becomes more entertaining when you understand that Great Uncle Wayne was well into his 70s and preferred to not wear his dentures.
“You need to talk loudly – be sure to make lots of noise, because you want the bear to think you are bigger than you are. If the bear charges, don’t back down. Usually they won’t actually attack you.”
At this point, I was wondering how often this had happened to him? How much experience did he have on the subject? Just how many times had this man been attacked by a bear? I was simultaneously mesmerized and confused by this conversation.
“Lastly, if the bear does attack you. Get on the ground quickly, place your hands on the back of your neck, and play dead. That’s how you defend yourself against a bear” He got on the ground and demonstrated the move. He had a wry smile on his face. I think he knew that he had 2 suburban born and raised teenage girls a little bit concerned and confused about their need to be able to fend off bears.
He sat back down in his chair, adjusted his glasses with his hands, placed his hands on his round stomach, and smiled at us. We were too confused to speak.
I’ve since googled my Great Uncle Wayne’s methods of bear safety…. and his technique and tips are actually pretty accurate.
My lasting memory of my Great Uncle Wayne will always be this discussion. I hope my bear experiences are mostly the zoo-variety, but I’m so lucky to have had such a great conversation with such a great man.
So how does one transition from a bear story to a spicy noodle dish?
Bears like honey.
This noodle dish has honey.
1 (160z) box linguini fini (or alternate pasta of choice)
1/2C sesame oil
1-2T crushed red pepper flake (adjust for heat tolerance)
6T soy sauce
1/4- 1/2C green onion, sliced finely
1/4-1/2C cilantro, chopped
2C shredded carrots
Peanuts, crushed for garnish
Cook pasta according to directions.
In a small sauce pan, combine oil and red pepper flakes. Heat over medium heat for 2 minutes. Turn off heat. Strain red pepper flakes from oil.
In a bowl, combine sesame-chili oil, soy sauce, and honey. Whisk. Stir in noodles.
Add green onion, cilantro, and carrots. Toss to combine.
Garnish with peanuts.
Serve hot or let it refrigerate overnight for a much cooler noodle treat.