We waited for our son Seth and his family to come to Black Mountain before we scheduled a small reception for Natty and Kate at Abby’s little farm. Their flight out here from Flagstaff took way longer than they anticipated because the temperature was only 20 degrees and there was too much ice on the plane. They missed their connection but somehow were quickly rescheduled through Washington DC to Charlotte. They stayed in Charlotte for a quick visit with family down there, and came up to Black Mountain Friday afternoon.

Max is not a scary bear

We spent much of the weekend laughing, eating, and gathering what we needed for the reception. Saturday night Melissa made an amazing Mexican dinner: burritos, salsa, and all the trimmings, Seth made Mexican corn, and Cole scooped up Ben and Jerry’s ice cream for dessert, while he savored the cans of Cheerwine he loves so much and can’t get in Arizona.

When I woke up Sunday morning I saw a text from Abby telling me to call her the minute I woke up. That sounded ominous! I called her and her voice sounded shaky. “What’s wrong!?” I demanded.

My Grands, Al and Cole from Flagstaff

“Something killed one of my sheep last night. Olive was barking like crazy, but I had no idea what was going on. When I went out this morning, there was Stitch tangled up in the fence. Blood everywhere…I tried to pull him away from the fence, but he was caught. It’s horrible! He’s a bloody mess. I can’t deal with this myself. I need help.”

Melissa and the sheep

I woke Ron, and he and Seth and our wonderful neighbor Tim headed up to Abby’s with Tim’s backhoe and tugged the mauled sheep, whose throat and stomach had been ripped out, away from the fence and buried it. All around the dead sheep were big bloody bear paw prints. We didn’t know that black bears can attack and eat other animals. I thought they ate just plants, bird seed, and garbage, but I was wrong. Ron called the North Carolina office of Natural Resources, and he was told that this time of year as the bears prepare for hibernation, they are hungry, aggressive, and unpredictable.

These are not the killer bears

As if there were not enough things to worry about these days: climate change and weird weather, Covid numbers still rising in face of raging anti-vaxxers [one furious woman told off a shopkeeper who told her to wear a mask, saying science didn’t know anything!], labor shortages, the lack of building materials and other needs for construction, imported goods stuck in the sea off the coast of California, and the possibility that we won’t have enough goods for Christmas, now we have to be extra scared of bear attacks.

Metal chicken on a painted table

It was the day we would gather as a family and celebrate the marriage of Natty and Kate, but Abby was concerned that the mauling of the sheep was a bad omen. I prefer to think of it as a sacrifice to the gods, as the ancient Greeks used to make, and it was an auspicious sign that Natty and Kate’s marriage will be blessed.

Cutting the cake