Ten a.m., three quarters through February, I’m driving along 7th Line to town, tall trees and deep snow on either side, a house or two glimpsed through branches: suddenly, ahead, as the road slopes up, from the trees on the right bounds a black animal, leaping across the road from one side of the woods to the other.
At least 2.5 feet at the shoulder, about 150 pounds, one firm cantering stride in the middle of the road and it’s gone, through the bush to my left. By the time I drive to the spot and stop, I see nothing through the trees but snow-covered ground, and a nearby house in its clearing. No animals to spot the other way, either.
Lithe, lean, solid, strong, on four long legs, with a supple, athletic spine, this animal lopes confidently, fast, smoothly along its trail. It could be a feline. But I don’t see a long tail. Canine? Poring over images later, trying to keep the memory of what I saw untainted by what the Internet is showing me, my best answer is that it was a lean black bear.
I’m not totally satisfied. Bears often have more heft around their chests, middles, and haunches. I believe they can be graceful, but are they typically more lumbering than lithe? In this case, it’s the suppleness of the spine, and the trim and agile body, that have impressed me. But given where I live, in Lanark County, Ontario, it’s more likely a bear than a large feline and I can’t think of a canine-type animal of that size. And with the short tail…
So I will call it ‘black bear’, very early out of hibernation. Is that likely? I’m skeptical. But enough: I don’t need to know ‘what’ it was to be upended by its energy. And to be grateful at these two seconds of its passage through my life.