Ely, Minnesota is one of my favorite towns in the world. Like Emerson and Thoreau, I like to observe the wilderness from the calm perch of civilization. There’s no more civilized a perch than Ely, nor more wild a wilderness than the Boundary Waters that lay beyond it: nothing but lake-riddled forest everywhere. (Here’s a good source to read more about that.) They have a wolf center up in Ely, and it’s supposedly the inspiration for the setting of Maggie Stiefvater’s werewolf books. They also have a bear center, and this is the one I’ve been watching all week. This January, close to a million people watched their live den cam to see Lily, a mama bear, before, during, and after the birth of her cub. OK, maybe that’s all a bit personal, but it’s great that so many people were able to learn about bears and feel personally connected to a bear family.
This week, following a storm and some mysterious behavior by both bears, they were separated. Hope (the cub) isn’t really old enough to go it alone. It was heartbreaking to read about Lily’s futile all-night searches. I’m a jaded enough guy, but there are still occasionally stories that make me feel like the world was an even worse place than I imagined, and that there will never again by joy in Mudville. That’s how I felt when I read that the cub was lost and Lily seemed to be forgetting about her and moving on with her ursine life.
But then, last night, in a scene reminiscent of a certain chain of events in my own neighborhood, the people up at the bear center lured Hope to a box and brought her to her mother four miles away.
Here’s that rare real-world happy ending, if you can bear to watch: