Bears eating garbageDidn’t get sleep last night. Not because the sun was out playing all night, and not because of an all-night party next door, but because of the bears. It’s that time of year again, mid-summer, when brown and black bears troll for garbage. Salmon are running, berries are appearing–everything is moving around, either trying not to be food, or going after food. Even the food moves when the wind is blowing, or when water moves it.

I’m talking about garbage.Bear Yogi Bear

Bears follow any food source, the easier, the better. Homeowners in Alaska know the drill. Be Bear Aware: DON’T FEED THE BEARS! There’s a reason for this. Bears get used to handouts and make them part of their routine. When the well-intentioned handouts stop (Sorry Yogi, no pick-a-nick basket for you!) it doesn’t end well, for bears or humans.

Facebook is infamous for ‘shaming’ now, with pages of shame for practically everything: picking your nose in public, texting while driving, having sex in public—whatever. People post pictures of Eagle River homeowners who put their garbage out too soon, the day before the garbage truck arrives the next morning. People post photos—garbage strewn about driveways and yards, with bears happily munching leftover pizza, or licking beer bottles (Alaska Amber is a favorite among bears—please don’t ask me how I know this).

Seeing pictures of these late-night marauders alerted us to action. Keep the garbage container in the garage until right before pick-up! *Sigh* Okay, that is torture for a Not-A-Morning-Person. I dutifully set my alarm for 7 a.m. to: 1) spring out of bed in a stupor, 2) try not to fall down the stairs, 3) try not to yank the door off its hinges because I’m too groggy to unlock it, 4) stumble-fall down more stairs, 5) grope for the garbage container, and a 6) roll it like a chariot goddess in my pj’s over our long-as-the-wall-of-China driveway to the curb, where the truck is usually waiting for me.Garbage day woman

Not today, however.

Last night I had garbage anxiety and startled awake every fifteen minutes: Is the truck here yet? Did I sleep through my alarm? Are the bears chewing on my porch, masticating my flowers? Are they waiting for me to emerge in my skivvies, so they can have a piece of me?

I flopped back on my pillow, almost asleep, then—the sound of the garbage truck working its way closer sprung me out of bed like a trebuchet. SMACK! Right into the wall. Rubbing my nose, I bawled like a toddler.Garbage truck clock

“Oh NO, the garbage, the garbage, the GARBAGE!” I yammered and flailed, like it was a 30.5 mag earthquake.

A voice under the covers said, “I took it out.” Guru Man (that’s what I call my husband unit) didn’t think I’d get up (he was right).

We argued about it the night before:

GM: “Just set the container out before bed.”  Me: “No! The bears’ll get it and spread garbage from here to Homer, and Fish and Game will fine us a thousand bucks!”

GM: “It’s a hundred bucks.”  Me: “I don’t have a hundred bucks–besides, it’s three hundred bucks.”

Money 100 dollar bill

GM: “Then wait’ll after midnight, when it’s legal.”  Me: “Facebook said the bears have been showing up at 3 a.m.”

GM: “Then set it out at 4 a.m.”   Me: “Are you inSANE? Bears aren’t idiots, they’ll wait for it.”

GM:  “Why do you have garbage anxiety?” Me, screaming: “I don’t have garbage anxiety!”

My morning bed-emerging performance made a liar out of me. Okay, so I freaked out when the truck showed up, thinking I didn’t get up in time. Who wouldn’t? All day I’ve been a crabby slug from lack of sleep, moping from room to room.

GM: “I think you need closure. Get the empty garbage container and stick it in the garage.” Me: “I know where I’d like to stick it.”

GM: “You still have garbage anxiety. Bringing in the container will give you closure.”

Begrudging his advice, I plodded down the stairs, out the door, and dragged the container inside the garage.

Do I feel better? Why, yes, I do–until next week’s garbage pickup rolls around.

Thank God this only happens once a week. If I were a morning person, it wouldn’t be an issue. But I’m not—and I never will be (she said defiantly).

The bears don’t even care; they don’t appreciate how I suffer, to not offer them a weekly buffet.Bear wants food

Yes, I have garbage anxiety. Anyone know of a support group?


© Lois Paige Simenson and The Alaska Philosophaster, 2015., ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to The Alaska Philosophaster with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.                      LIPSLips







Written by Lois Paige Simenson

Leave a Comment