Bare Eye to Bear Eye

I refer to our U.S. home as Between the Sandbar and the Swamp… the Sandbar being the incredible Outer Banks of NC, and the Swamp being the wondrous Alligator River National Wildlife refuge. Our cottage sits overlooking Croatan Sound, ten minutes from being at either of those places. I am grateful.

I truly love this cottage, but I have been far too much inside lately, far, far, far too much. So yesterday morning, after my eye drops (they do eventually taper off) I spent the rest of the morning in ARNWR. I wasn’t going to any sort of doctor appointment, or having any procedure done, I was having an injection of nature. This is my heart medication. It is an anti-depressant. It is a quality of life necessity for me. I needed to get out into it and I am grateful.

As I entered the refuge from the east side, I saw for the first time, bears on their namesake road, Bear Road. A mom and cub(s) who disappeared into the woods before I was anywhere close to them, but a good sign for the morning. As it is mid-summer, I wasn’t expecting a lot of birds. I was really more bearing than birding.

I drove further in and was greeted by a few beautiful, and a bit silly, Northern Bobwhites bobbling around on the track. This female was more cooperative than most, but user error in my camera settings over exposed most of the shots. After a little adjusting, this one is pretty good though. I am grateful.

Northern Bobwhite, Colinus virginianus Female
Deeper into the refuge there was a Turkey Vulture in the top of a dead tree asking to have its photo made. I obliged. They really are beautiful in their vulturine way. I enjoyed looking at this bird with my “new” eyes and I did have a new appreciation for one of our most common birds. TUVU, I am grateful for you.
Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura 
Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
Then there were bears. I went down to River Road, the area of Alligator River NWR where I usually see more bears and it did not disappoint. A mom with twins was on the edge of the road and I crept the car down to where I could take a few photos. They meandered into the edge of the woods and I crept further forward until I could look down into the bush where they had gone. They were still right there, just across a small ditch close to the road. I was able to slip out of the far side of the car and get some photos without crowding them. Mom seemed unconcerned with my presence and continued munching on grasses. Then one of the cubs climbed a few feet up a tree to have a look at me. I will never forget that beautiful encounter. We were eye to eye. There seemed to be curiosity in those beautiful, dark eyes looking at me, and my eyes, with their newly restored clarity looked back with curiosity and appreciation. I savored the beauty and phenomenal cuteness as we beheld each other, bare eye to bear eye. I snapped a few more photos and let them be. I am so grateful. 

American Black Bear, Ursus americanus
Momma in the bushes.
As cute as it gets.
Bare eye to bear eye... we beheld each other and I am grateful.

Birds. Bears. Peace. Love. Earth. Laughter. Music.