Pickle making turns dangerous

Columnist Shannon McKinnon finds herself in a bit of a pickle.

If you were asked to jot down the top 10 dangerous ways to spend your weekend, making pickles probably wouldn’t come to mind. Well, I’m here to tell you otherwise.

I made pickles on Saturday night and almost bit the green wiener. Something — when you pause to think about it —  that would look eerily similar to a dill pickle. But I digress. Here’s what happened.

Dusk was falling as I got down to my last six jars of cucumbers and realized I was almost out of dill.

“I’m just running out to the garden,” I told Darcy, who was watching TV. “Watch the stove.”

“Huh? Yeah, OK,” he replied absently.

Grabbing a pair of scissors I sprinted off the deck and ran up the slope to the upper garden. I recently expanded the sloped portion into terraced vegetable beds and even as I ran, I was admiring my handiwork instead of looking where I was going. I was almost on top of my herb patch before I focused on the object of my quest … dill blossoms. When I did, all thoughts of pickles, dill and terraced vegetable beds vanished. Standing next to the herb patch stood a bear. An enormous, black, bear.

Had I been looking where I was going when I left the house I would have seen the bear while still only steps from the safety of our back door. As it were I was now caught in the open with only a small pair of dull herb scissors to protect me.

This is how life goes. One minute you’re making pickles and the next you’re in one.

Darcy, who I strongly suspected hadn’t been listening to me when I left, would no doubt wander out to the kitchen during the commercial break, see the pot of brine simmering on the stove sans wife and wonder where I had gone. Then the sight of all those freshly canned pickles would make him hungry for a sandwich. He would never guess a hundred feet from his left elbow a bear was contemplating his wife in the exact same way he was considering the package of Havarti he had just unearthed from the fridge.

The only difference was the Havarti didn’t scream.

Anyone who has read my column for any length of time knows I suffer from acute bear phobia. Coupled with my love for the outdoors I have armed myself with all the cautionary information necessary to survive bear encounters. In the case of a black bear it is important to come across as predator, not prey. You don’t want to challenge the bear, but you don’t want to run like a fat, juicy, rabbit neither. So what did I do when faced with the object of my nightmares? I screamed so loud they heard me two districts away and then … well, I ran. Just like a loud, juicy rabbit on steroids.

In my defence, I expect to see bears in the woods, but not in my garden right by the house. I hate that the bear has intruded on my sanctuary, but that’s what happens when you choose to live in the country. The bear called this home long before we did.

The question is, now what? I used to pack pepper spray until I had an unfortunate incident where I was testing the spray can and accidentally got some pepper on my fingers which I then managed (don’t ask) to rub into my own eyes. After that I decided I would rather take my chances.

A friend who knows someone who is legendary for hiking in bear country once told me the best way to keep bears off you is to make a trio of “Whoop, whoop, whoops” every 10 minutes or so. For the next few days I whooped it up in my garden until I went hoarse, no doubt alarming the neighbours no end. A good thing that came of it was I finally got the bee hives fenced in, something that should have been done three years ago. Why is it we so often wait for something to almost happen before we do something to prevent it?

As for the pickles, I made Darcy stand look out while I returned to the herb patch for the dill. Because, when it’s all said and done, pickles still need to be made.

I’m calling them Bear Pickles and everyone better like them.

Shannon McKinnon is a humour columnist from Northern BC. You can catch up on past columns by visiting www.shannonmckinnon.com.

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