Spring can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. To some people it means the opening of trout season, while to others it means spring gobbler is right around the corner. Spring to us has many meanings and breathes new life into our souls. It marks the start of more pedaling and paddling as well as a whole host of other nice weather activities. It's a time for the dull hillsides to become a palette of pastel greens and the flowers to burst into vibrant colors. It's a time for the forest to come alive.
Oh yeah, I forgot one other important aspect of spring and that would be Skunk Cabbage. You heard me right, skunk cabbage, natures salad or bear weed. So why do we get all excited about skunk cabbage? Geez, doesn't everyone get excited about skunk cabbage? Okay, maybe not!
Every spring we anxiously wait for certain patches of skunk cabbage to fill the forest floor. Why you ask! Well, over the years we have come to know certain skunk cabbage patches that are real popular with black bears. Year after year we see them there filling up on this delectable vegetation. Okay before you have visions of us out there gathering this greenery for our next salad or coleslaw, get that out of your mind because this stuff literally smells like a skunk. There are very few animals that eat skunk cabbage. Turkeys nibble on it at times but bears love it. Not only do they think it's mighty tasty but for them it acts as a laxative and gets their systems back on track after hibernation. It is especially important to them if the autumn prior produced a sparse crop of acorns. That was especially the case this spring.
Over this past weekend we decided to check out one of these patches of skunk cabbage and sure enough the black bears were there. There was a good size Momma bear, and at least one cub and possibly two. We grabbed the camera and tripod and headed over the bank and across the flat in an effort to get as close as possible. As we watched the bears continually munched on the cabbage. On a couple occasions the large female lifted her head and made eye contact with us but then continued to eat. This went on for quite some time until apparently she felt we posed a threat and in an instant she and the two cubs ran out of sight up the mountain. We managed a few pictures but hopefully next time we will get closer. A good point to ponder is just how close do you want to get to a Momma bear and her cub! You need to question if getting closer is worth the risk because Momma bears are extremely protective of their cubs.
Well, it's pretty obvious we've been spotted! This could get real interesting if she charges.