Category Archives: Bart the Bear

Forest Hospitality Crisis Deepens

Today we hear from Bart, a bear who found a smart phone in the woods.

H’lo, Bart here.

I live in the woods so I know all about the natural patterns.

Summer dies, the leaves fall, the snow flies, and the bears hunker down. Then the sun warms, the snow melts, the bears wake up and the people go a little bit nuts.

This is the time when all the annual warnings come out about securing things that smell tasty because the dreaded bears are coming out of hibernation and they’re hungry but there’s no food for them, so you’d better make sure there’s no charred chunks burned onto the grate of the gas grill.

Which is too bad, because I sure likes to do me some charred chunk gas grill grate grazing. My heart sinks when I climb up on a deck in the dead of night, carefully make my way to the cook top, and lift the lid only to see that someone has been busy with a wire brush and the 409.

And articles like this one are so alarmist – as if the worst thing that can happen is that a bear will lick the Weber or tip over your smelly old garbage. Let me tell you – having a bit of your trash strewn about is not the worst thing that can happen on a windy April morning.

What’s sadder is the way this paranoia makes you behave.

I’ve heard tell of “Minnesota Nice,” but I’ve sure never seen it. Especially not in Spring. Even though you make such a big deal of being so friendly and welcoming to the unfortunate victims of bad luck with poems like “The New Colossus,” which I read online and liked a lot:

“Give me your tired, your poor.
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

I’m guessing Emma Lazarus would turn over in her grave if she saw the way you’ve decided to treat your hungry, huddled bears. As far as I’m concerned, this is what I hear when I try to re-enter society every April.

I’ve seen that bear before.
His famished stomach churning to eat free.
Your wretched refuse is his grocery store!
Pizza, or maybe a toaster pastry?
Let the poor bastard have an apple core!

But who am I kidding? I know everything in the pantry is in lock-down. That’s why I snuck in and snitched a whole box of Twinkies from Ranger Station last summer when they were all distracted trying to get a stray deer out of the DNR gift shop.

Those things never go bad!

The Twinkies, I mean.  Deer are bad to the bone!

Your pal,

I’m impressed with Bart’s ability to quote from a poem that adorns the Statue of Liberty, but I am relatively certain he will not make it through the spring on a Twinkies-only diet.  I hope he finds something nourishing, and soon!

Where have you found inspirational words to live by?

Early Risers

Today’s post comes from Bart, the bear that found a smart phone in the woods.

H’lo. Bart here.

Just took a look at the forecast and it’s sunshine and mild temperatures. Maybe in the ’50’s by the middle of next week! That sounds like a good enough reason to wake up now, rather than later. I mean, why lie around in your bed when the world is getting busy just outside your door?

I was hoping to get roused in February, but no such luck. I know there are some bears who won’t leave their dens until April, but I’m one who looks forward to the beginning of a new season. There’s so much to do, and being in a state of quiet repose for five months gets old. Yes, it sounds great in November, but in March I want to get all the trappings of hibernation behind me (out, fecal plug!) so I can start living!

And even though there are no wild berries yet, I’m a cheerful riser. One trick I learned – if you look at the ground underneath the deer stands first thing when you wake up – Doritos! All through the Fall those bored hunters sit there waiting for a shot, and the ones who snack out of foil bags create such a ruckus they never see a deer at all – therefore, they eat (and drop) even more chips!

If you can collect some before the thaw really hits, they’ve still got a little crunch! Ah, the simple pleasures …

Your pal,

What’s your favorite breakfast food?

Cowards Pass On Offer

Today’s post comes from Bart, the bear who found a smart phone in the woods.


Bart here, fading in and out of that wintertime state of torpor otherwise known as “hibernation”.

I’m not too excited about being awake right now, but as long as I’m up I do have a bone to pick with the people who make a big fuss over Groundhog Day.

Last year I said Groundhog Day could be lots more interesting if they made a big show out of rousting a bear to find out how much longer winter would last.

But nobody took me up on it. Yesterday came and went without even a knock on my door. Not that I have an actual door in my den, but you know what I mean. I waited around all morning hoping to be poked with a stick, but nothing happened.

Instead, all the coverage went to that stupid groundhog. Again.

So no, I’m not impressed that P. Phil “saw” his shadow. Casting a shadow is not a big deal in the animal world. Almost everybody can do it.

Rousting a bear would be much more active than waking a groundhog, and I can do a lot more than blink my eyes in the February sunshine. But I realize the whole groundhog thing is built around old fashioned “folk wisdom”, so I made up a little rhyme to get the bear rousting tradition going.

Wake a bear while he is nappin’
and he can tell you what will happen.

If he stomps upon your torso
spring’s delayed six weeks or moreso

If he bites you on your shoulder
March and April will be colder

But if he licks you on your face,
Spring will hurry here, apace.

Nice use of “apace,” eh? That’s Shakespeare.  Let’s see a groundhog do that!

Your pal,

Share your favorite bit of folk wisdom.

True North

Today’s post comes from Bart, the bear who found a smart phone in the woods.

H’lo, Bart here.

I’m hibernating right now, though we have our alert moments in between all the napping and torpor. So when I’m awake I check the Google news to see what’s going on, which is how I found out there’s new territory opening up to the north of here.

Bear territory, I mean. Polar bears are getting even more polar, real-estate wise. That means new places are opening up – sights I’ve never seen and fresh ursine experiences. Maybe I’m ready for a change. It would feel different to be the New Bear In Town.

Not that I’m all that excited about the prospect of moving north, especially when you see the area being vacated – it’s a lot of water that isn’t frozen as much as it used to be. But where there’s water, you might find some fish. And anyway, if bears to the north of us are moving away, that means bears to the south of us are moving closer.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve got nothing against southern bears. I just don’t like crowds.

So anyway … when I fall back to sleep in a minute or two, I’ll dream about going on an adventure to find an abandoned Polar Bear Palace in the distant wilds – my new Fortress of Solitude at the top of the world.

But really, I don’t think I’ll ever leave home.


Have you ever been part of a migration?

Bird Brains

Today’s post comes from Bart, the bear who found a smart phone in the woods.

H’lo, Bart here.

Well there’s snow again, finally. ‘Bout time, if you ask me. The woods get kinda dull in winter without a white blanket to make things look clean and crisp, like a freshly made bed.

Not that I know anything about freshly made beds. I’ve heard tell, that’s all. I know there’s three kinds of freshly made beds – too hard, too soft and just right.

That’s the legend among us bears, anyhow.

Most of MY freshly made stuff is exactly the kind of junk the new snow covers up, which is why we like it so much. The woods can get kinda messy and gross, to tell the truth. Gotta love the snow.

It’s funny, because people think we bears and all the other wild creatures hate the “bad” weather and run from it and complain about it, just like you do. But for us, the weather is the weather – we never think about changing it or how it could be better than it is.

What’s the point of that? I would shrug right now but I don’t have the shoulders for it.

So anyway, I was surprised to see this article the other day about birds having the power to sense severe storms days in advance and then they take action to avoid them, which makes birds look pretty smart.

Read it if you like. Some people think this means that birds are oh-so sensitive and highly intelligent because they can fly out of the way of bad weather the same way we would if only we could be so smart for even a day.

Some are even saying we should let pigeons do the daily TV forecast – that they would rescue us from harm because of their extreme weather smarts.

Seriously, though, that’s not a good idea. I’ve known a few birds and they’re as dumb as stones. Pigeons especially!  Not really hero material.  Not even close.  Suppose they knew some bad weather was coming – so what?  Birds wouldn’t be able to tell you why, or how they knew, or what to do about it, except “Fly!”

That’s pretty much the whole bird vocabulary right there. “Eat”. “Poop”. “Fly”. Not the kind of TV role model you want for your kids.

I’m not saying birds are worthless. You just have to know who you’re dealing with. Here’s a YouTube video from the Budapest Zoo that pretty much sums it up:

So I’m a creature of the woods. I don’t know what it’s like to be a zoo bear. But if I was set up in a pen like this with tons of visitors every day, I’d want to keep it tidy. Lots of people say this bear was trying to save the bird, but I think she was just trying to get that annoying thing out of her water. They can cause such a ruckus, and for what?

All that squawking, flailing and flapping would make people forget to look at the cool bear!

Your pal,

When have you rescued a wild creature?

Love Storm, Revisited

This morning at 9am, my good friend Mike Pengra will re-air the final broadcast of MPR’s Morning Show on Radio Heartland, recorded 6 years ago today.

Such a kind gesture from a true gentleman!

Since it’s only good manners to bring a gift of some sort to a party, I’ll offer this – a post from the old “Trail Balloon” blog that immediately followed the event itself:

Our final Morning Show broadcast was an immense hug and a truly beautiful thing thanks to the waves of faithful listeners who flowed to and through the Fitzgerald Theater and St. Paul’s Central Presbyterian Church. The size of the crowd went well beyond our expectations (I wagered 1500) and their warmth was off the charts.

As a lifelong radio guy, I am naturally timid at the thought of facing a live audience, but this group was as comfort-inducing as any collection of 2000 souls can be. What’s the opposite of an unruly mob? A ruly mob, I guess. That’s what we had.

All the heartfelt words of praise for our Morning Show were oh so welcome, but after awhile I did begin to feel a bit guilty. Let’s face it, everybody works hard and the stress of day-to-day living takes a toll. Who wouldn’t get a boost from having a gaggle of admiring people asking for your autograph? I confess I enjoyed it tremendously, but I recognize that most people deserve a kind word and a pat on the back for the good things they do every day, and do they get it? You know the answer. Sorry Jim Ed and I hogged the love storm, but what could we do? It blew down the doors.

The Morning Show is done. It was a long-running and sometimes confounding radio gymnastics routine with plenty of twists and flourishes and it looked like we would come crashing down a couple of times, but our spotters were there for us and gravity gave us some lucky breaks, and the dismount was incredible.

When have you finished well?

Anti-Social Media

Today’s post comes from Bart, the bear who found a smart phone.

H’lo, Bart here.

Last time I posted I saw in the comments (yes, I read the comments!) where it was disputed that a smart phone found by a bear in the woods would be working this long, what with batteries wearing out and stuff.

Screenshot 2014-12-02 at 7.18.31 PM

Good questions. But it’s not that difficult for a bear to get a smart phone whenever he needs one.

As a rule, people should have all their senses turned “on” while out in nature. I am part of nature itself, so I can guarantee that we wild creatures are very alert!

So if you’re a bear who wants a smart phone, all you have to do is wait very patiently for a distracted hiker to come near. Usually it’s pretty easy, especially if they’re hiking & texting. When they’re about 15 feet away, step out of the brush and roar a bit.

The hiker stops.

If you’re a human, all the guide books say at this point you’re supposed to back away slowly, not turning around for fear I’ll chase you. Whatever you do, the books urge, don’t run.

This is good advice, because I do like to chase down running things.

But more and more these days, people don’t do either. Instead, they very slowly lift the phone up to take a picture of me. It kinda makes sense because they’re on social media already. When something special happens to you, you post it right away.

So I wait for them to lift up the phone and fumble for the camera app.

When I sense they’re about to click the shutter, I charge!

Most times, the hiker drops the thing and runs, and ta da! I have a new smart phone!

I also have a pretty cool collection of pictures of me, charging. That’s how it goes in the digital age. Just about anything can be captured and distributed, though I’m guessing those hikers weren’t expecting to share their phones with me in exactly this way.

But then social media has just been declared misleading when it comes to showing your real-life experiences and values.

Big surprise there! I know there are a lot of smart-phone holding bears in these woods who feel their lives are pretty dull when they see all the neat photos I have of the backsides of running hikers!

Yes, my life IS that good! Read it and weep, suckers!

Your pal,

Do you believe what you see, read and hear on social media?