Exercise is good for us and we know it. It can be a struggle to get out of bed before dawn to walk some days, especially if we stay up too late. The next morning we just can’t bear to rise. On this morning, though bleary, we rose and plodded out the door.

Typically the lark to Mr. Harris’ I’d-rather-be-sleeping self as we walked he wasn’t the only one feeling a bout of sleep inertia. My brain fuzzy and my thoughts foggy, I felt like I needed another two hours of rest. For some reason, when I am awoken while dreaming, it is so much harder to get moving. I may be up and active, but my brain is actively seeking a sofa to nap on.

Shuffling in our speedy way, I chirped on about at least it wasn’t pitch dark anymore. It helped somewhat and then we were wide awake.

“Look at that,” he said, pointing. My thoughts squirreled a moment and my body tensed as my eyes and brain tried to connect the image in my mental process. “Oh,” I startled. “That’s a huge dog,” though as soon as I said it, the synapse fired and instantly I knew what was before us.

At nearly the same moment the revelation hit, he corrected, “That’s no dog. It’s a bear!” We watched him lope in that drunken, broken fashion bears seem to have and I could see how shaggy the fur was even in the low light. The bear started to turn away and it would have been a mere glimpse, but the large dog at a nearby house began sharply barking.

Mr. Bear came back our way. We marveled as he staggered around a bit while choosing direction and then loped away up the service road toward Highlands Hammock State Park.

Dancing in semi-sleepy fashion I chortled about how exciting it was to finally see a bear again after all these years. Even better, it was undoubtedly the best bear sighting I’ve had since coming to Florida. That’s saying something considering I spent 20 years as a park ranger. Just twice had I seen one and never for such duration.

I took photos, but in the low light the grainy outcome made it impossible to see the bear. It looked more like one of those Big Foot postings you see online. Later, I was delighted to see folks had shared a brief video and multiple photos of the bear on Facebook. Noting the location, I marveled how the bear was using the parcels of land purchased specifically for this reason.

This smart Ursus Americanus was using the plots of land purchased to expand the boundaries of our local state park specifically to ensure wildlife had natural corridors to move around. Absolutely delighted to be in a community that lies between several of these, we see wildlife often.

If you’re not bearing the excitement of this large omnivore well, here’s some good news. He’d rather eat your pet food than your pets and he’s way more frightened of you than you may be of him. Just ask Big Foot. Your chances of seeing either of these is pretty slim, so count yourself lucky for even a glimpse.

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