We aren’t the only ones out there berry pick­ing

The Labradorian - - Editorial - Gary Shaw

We folks from Labrador are by virtue of the fact of where we are, and the cul­ture that we are ex­posed to, and live in, watch the com­ing and go­ing of the sea­sons with a bit more at­ten­tion than many folks from other parts of the coun­try.

We mea­sure the weather, what it means to us, and re­act with a bit more at­ten­tion to the con­se­quences than a lot of folks.

Mother Na­ture sends sig­nals out there that are of crit­i­cal im­por­tance to our crea­tures great and small. There is no bet­ter example of this than the ac­tions of the black bears that live among us.

Many among us this time of year see the sea­son chang­ing from sum­mer to fall with the in­ten­sity and con­se­quences that this change rep­re­sents. We know that it’s that time of year for many of us to hit the hills and the burn overs for the an­nual fall berry pick­ing ef­forts.

We do this for a num­ber of rea­sons. First and fore­most, for many of us, it’s an an­nual tra­di­tion that we have been en­gaged in since we were kids. We get out the door, have a day in the coun­try, many times a so­cial day with fam­ily and friends and pick away and gather a bucket or two of the year’s an­nual berry bounty.

A good day in the coun­try, a good yarn, and the bonus of the berries is eas­ily rea­son enough to get out there. If for some rea­son we don’t make it out for this an­nual har­vest, although dis­ap­point­ing, it would not be the end of the world. It would mean the ab­sence of the tasty treats that the berries would bring to our ta­bles, but in the end, it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

For our black bears, this time of year, and what they do, it is an ac­tion on their part that means lit­er­ally, life or death. I don’t know what goes on in a bear’s mind. I doubt that they check their cal­en­dar of things to do, in their daily plan­ner. What I do know is that they start their an­nual fall berry pick­ing ac­tiv­i­ties this time of year and are re­lent­less in their pur­suit of these sweet treats ev­ery wak­ing hour. Their lives de­pend on it and through Mother Na­ture’s in­fi­nite wis­dom; they have for eons of time and evo­lu­tion, known this re­al­ity.

We know that when these bears wake up from their long win­ter’s hi­ber­na­tion, their fat sup­ply is gone, they have to start over. They have to take in enough food to sup­ply the needs of get­ting through each day, but just as im­por­tantly, they have to start the sea­son long process of pil­ing on as much fat as pos­si­ble to head into their dens for the up­com­ing win­ter’s hi­ber­na­tion.

As they head into the fall sea­son, they some­how know that the pres­sure is on, and the berries on the land, and how much they gorge them­selves with them, will de­ter­mine a good out­come or not, next spring. Each day closer to hi­ber­na­tion, the pres­sure to eat as many berries as pos­si­ble gets greater.

At this par­al­lel, a black bear has to put on a min­i­mum of 30 per cent of their body weight in fat from when they come out of their den in the spring. Any less than this and they won’t wake up next spring. They would not have had enough of their fat re­serves to get them through the win­ter. They will have starved to death in their sleep.

As we find our­selves in the coun­try on the hills or the burn overs, don’t be at all sur­prised if we en­counter a bear, head down and dili­gently feed­ing fever­ishly on the berries.

We are in the berry patch be­cause we want to be, the bear is there be­cause he has to be. Give them their space undis­turbed; their lives de­pend on it. Once again, Mother Na­ture at work.

GARY SHAW — SPE­CIAL TO THE AURORA

Peo­ple need to re­mem­ber they are shar­ing the for­est with an­i­mals like the black bear.

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