Despite reading everything I could find on what to do if I run into a bear or a cougar, the worst I faced on our recent camping trip in the Fraser Canyon were chipmunks. Thankfully.
I’ve been looking up advice on what to do if you encounter wildlife: we’re hoping to camp on the north end of the island this summer, and it’s pretty likely we’ll be in their territory. Heck, we live in their territory now. I got an email from my teen’s school about a bear in the area, with advice about walking to and from school. We were strolling with friends in a small ravine in the city and saw a fresh cougar print. “It was probably watching you from high up,” someone commented later. Last night’s news had a story about a woman in Victoria, BC’s capital city on Vancouver Island, who was stalked by a cougar. Wildness is never far away here. It just isn’t.
These are all signs I’ve snapped in the last month or so, not stock photos.
On a recent family hike I asked one of our kids to stay closer to us and both of them (not native to this territory) were disparaging about their mother’s ‘fear’ of meeting a cougar. They weren’t there recently when someone said that the hospital in Tofino, while treating the very rare bear attack, never needs to deal with cougar attacks. I knew where that was going: “All that’s left are bones.” You grow up here, you know the reports, you have a healthy ‘fear’. Okay, so it’s unlikely to happen. But it could happen. Probably won’t, but… maybe.
And then there’s earthquakes. We’re always getting tremors, and the odd shake up here and there, but seismologists say that the Pacific west coast (can you say Cascadia Subduction Zone?) is due a big one sometime in the next 50 years. Big one as in almost off the Richter scale (about a 9) with resulting tsunamis. Fifty years is a good time away, but the thing is… it might not be 50. Buildings are being upgraded for earthquake-proofness and people are encouraged to be prepared: ensure heavy items are securely attached to walls, have an earthquake kit stored somewhere outside your house, know how to react if you are inside or outside.
I do think about it. I even think about it in Dublin, when I am arranging furniture or deciding on a wall hanging for over a bed. It becomes instinct to consider whether something is going to crash in on you.
And yet I can’t go around worrying about potential earthquakes or encountering bears and cougars (though if I’m in the woods, I do think about it more. A lot more.). But I do have the need to be as prepared as possible. I’ve been slowly upgrading our earthquake kit here, changing out the water jugs, and adding stuff because there’s more people in the household. It does of course cross my mind that the earthquake kit may be buried, or that we’ll be in no shape to need it, just as the large stick I picked up when I saw the cougar print might have broken in my hands. But at least I’m doing something.
I’ll go out fighting, whether its a natural disaster or a native animal. In the meantime, I’ll be enjoying the chipmunks.
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