Bear spotted

Wellsboro outdoor columnist Chris Espenshade spotted this bear in Wellsboro’s residential district. If you see something interesting in the county, take a photo and send it to It just might make the paper or be shared on social media.

One day last week, I watched the first few episodes of “Frank of Ireland.” I am having trouble deciding whether or not I will stay with the series, but there was a good dialog in Episode 3 about metaphors and similes. It stuck in my brain.

The next morning, my neighbor chased a black bear away from the bird feeders, and the two to three-year-old bear climbed a tree in my neighbor’s yard. I know it is not good to see bears this close to people, but it is still neat to see the size and power of the animal. I was able to shoot a few photos before the bear decided he could not stay in the tree forever.

So, the bear descended. Bears look impressive doing just about anything, except climbing down a tree butt first. Frankly, they look a bit ridiculous, sort of glancing over their shoulder as they awkwardly lower themselves.

I have seen bears do amazingly athletic feats, liking crossing a stream at a full gallop, on an eight-inch fallen poplar. Backing down a tree is not one of those feats. You have to wonder if bears are cussing their creator every time they have to scramble down a tree trunk.

In many instances, bears are hesitant to come out of a tree when there are folks about. I do not think it is really fear as much as wanting to avoid humiliation. Yes, I think bears know they look a bit less than noble when descending.

So, in places providing instruction and advice to writers, one hears of convoluted metaphors. These are metaphors not easily followed, and often requiring explanation, which sort of defeats the whole idea of the metaphor.

The situation in my neighbor’s yard represents our current political crisis. My neighbor plays the role of the Big Lie, and all the Republican politicians willing to spread that nonsense. The bird feeders are the elected positions that must be protected at all costs. The bear represents a functioning democratic republic, where all citizens have the right for their votes to be counted equally. The tree is a dead-end for a functioning democracy, which will come if the federal government does not pass legislation to assure election integrity and everybody’s right to vote. Such passage will come only if the majority in the U.S. Senate votes to do away with the filibuster.

It will not be pretty, the process to get rid of this relic from the days of fighting against civil rights. The Democrats will have to lead this effort, and they are not eager to display their furry hind-ends to scrutiny. They know the screaming will increase in volume, as the self-righteous hypocrites wrongly characterize the filibuster as an institution.

But what is the choice? If Congress does not pass a comprehensive voter protection and election integrity law, we are left stuck in the tree.

No politician wakes up in the morning thinking “I want to be that bear.” Nobody says “I want to publicly and awkwardly struggle while folks fight back their laughter. I want to hang my ass out there.”

Democracy is not always pretty, but we as a nation need to get out of that tree. There can be no survival staying in that tree, cowering from the loud and oft-repeated Big Lie. The Democrats need to show some spine, end the filibuster and get democracy back to being an impressive creature, muscularly striding forward.

Yes, that is what a convoluted metaphor looks like. Just be glad I decided to scrap my kidney stone analogy.

An archaeologist, Chris Espenshade grew up hunting, fishing, and trapping in rural North Carolina. A resident of Wellsboro, he is a member of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association.

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