Summer’s a bear

Sunny was just hungry.

Sunny was just hungry.

(Come friend Aunt Ruthie on Facebook and let’s hang out.)

Aunt Ruth had never seen a bear high up a tree in the middle of a hotel courtyard before.

A huge black bear.

Granted, Ruthie’s led a sheltered life, free of snakes and alligators, but not once had such a rather baffling stop-the-tourists-it’s-time-to-gawk moment occurred in her vast history of summer vacations.

An odd day.

Auntie didn’t witness the bear’s ascension: Rumor had it he—gender is presumed here—was eating food left by a tourist here near Lake Tahoe, and, after getting spooked by a resident, climbed 30 feet up a tree, where he had a nice view of the pool and the encasing hotel rooms that flank the tree in a scraggly “U” shape.

Ruth could clearly see the bear from her idyllic patio. She couldn’t figure out why this guy in a blue shirt was standing at the base of the tree, camera in hand, head upturned. For about an hour.

Pity the poor staff of the hotel, a 20-something dude in a bright-green shirt and dramatic red-rimmed sunglasses. He would periodically go to the base of the tree and yell, “You get out of my tree, bear!” He’d throw a rock and, hands on hips, stare up. At one point, he brought out two friends and a hose. His friend started to spray up and then stopped and laughed, “Dude, you’re killing me. He’s like a puppy in a sprinkler up there.”

Draped over three tree branches like a giant black rug, the bear was panting like a dog when Ruthie peered up at him around 10 a.m., and panting still around 5 p.m. It was the way a dog pants in a hot car, windows cracked.

It’s been reported that land is dry, food is scarce and “conditions … will strain relations between [bears] and property owners,” according to the Tahoe Daily Tribune. That beloved bear, named Sunny, was shot dead at Lake Tahoe recently, allegedly by an angry home owner, possibly in violation of the law.

All Auntie Ruth knows is that that bear didn’t look happy, panting heavy, staring not at us but off into the distance. He came down while Ruthie was away at dinner, and the sun was going down. Reportedly, he just ambled out of the courtyard and up the hill and away.