until they died of starvation
Saturday, June 21 2014
This morning when I took the dogs for a walk, my route was up the Farm Road and then uphill via the Chamomile Headwaters trail. The plan was to make a smallish loop, gather some firewood relatively far from home, and then return to my computer in time for the next round of the ongoing web app migration to its new home on a live server. But at some point I heard Ramona barking in that desperate way that either indicates a mouthful of porcupine quills or that she has treed a Tyrannosaurus rex. So I had to stop what I was doing and run off to see whether or not a visit to the emergency vet lay in my future.
Happily, though she'd treed a bear, it was a thin, smallish one, and best of all, he seemed to want to stay up the tree. When I approached, though, the bear found reason to escape. The tree was enormous, and the bear was able to use its massive trunk as a shield from Ramona as he descended. But Ramona was quick and forced him back up (as he got away, Ramona jumped into the air in hopes of getting him). I tried to coax Ramona away, and I had a moment of success, which the bear immediately took advantage of. But then Ramona charged after him, treeing him at another tree maybe 150 feet to the southwest. I called and called in hopes of getting Ramona to come back, but it was hopeless. Initially Eleanor had stayed with me, but there was something about the urgency of Ramona's barking that eventually made her abandon me despite my increasingly desperate entreaties.
Eventually I just gave up and hoped the dogs would get bored with their treed bear. I proceeded to cut up a piece of very dry dead oak lying atop a low ridge near where I'd first seen the bear. I was far from home, so I didn't load my pack as heavily as I normally would have (the load later measured only 50 pounds), and then started walking home at a brisk pace. Gradually the sounds of the dogs's barking shriveled up and was lost in the din of birds, airplanes, and lonely 17 year cicadas who'd lost count of the years (there are a few of them sprinkled throughout the forest).
Back at the house, it was hard to focus on anything with the dogs gone. Given that altercations with bears have resulted in multiple incidents of injuries and one trip to the vet, all I could do was worry and look out the window in hopes of seeing them running homeward on the trail. But they never came. At several points I strained my ears and could hear Ramona's barking over a half mile away. It was consistently coming from one location and not diminishing over time, suggesting that the bear was remaining up in whatever tree the dogs were standing under. Evidently the dogs were both going to stand under that tree until they died of starvation.
So I got on a bicycle, rode it to the bottom of the Chamomile Headwaters Trail, and hiked towards the sound. As I arrived, I saw that Georges ("the Duke of Luxembourg") was also arriving. Evidently the barking was loud and clear at his place, the farm at the end of the Farm Road. For some reason the sound of my approaching had momentarily distracted Ramona from the bear, and she ran over to investigate. When she greeted me, I snapped a leash onto her collar and sat down against a tree. Meanwhile Georges snapped a few pictures of the bear with his iPhone. After that, he and Eleanor came over, and we had a little neighborly chit chat. The momentary absence of anyone at the bottom of the tree caused the bear to come down and quickly run away to the south. Ramona struggled in my arms and squealed in frustration, but I wasn't going to let her go until that bear had been given a substantial headstart. When I did let her go, Ramona exploded from my arms. But there was no chance she'd be seeing that bear any more today. Georges showed me the picture he'd taken, and it showed the bear high up into the canopy and far out onto an enormous horizontal limb.
Today's site migration headaches mainly came from the Laravel framework combined with the increasingly common practice of using an .htaccess file to screw around with (and, in my opinion, unnecessarily obfuscate) the relation between URLs and script addresses. In such a framework, when something goes wrong and throws an error like "too many redirects," it can be difficult to determine what the problem is. The directives inside an .htaccess file are mysteries to me and I'd rather not have to learn how they work. But in this case, that was the source of the problem. Fixing it was simply a matter of prepending a forward slash to the script address "index.php." After that, most of the problems I had to deal with were a consequence of real numbers appearing in places that had once expected integers. I hadn't expected the various frameworks and modules to prove so brittle when dealing with digits to the right of a decimal point.
I cooked a meal of pasta-with-hearty-red-sauce before Gretchen returned from her shift at the bookstore (which she'd gone to directly from the train after returning from her two-day Manhattan trip). We ate it out on the east deck while drinking a surprisingly good bottle of "Brotherhood Dry Riesling."
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