EARTHFIRE STORIES

-- by Susan Eirich, PhD -- As Jean walked into the bear area, he caught something unusual out of the corner of his eye. He turned to his right. Teton Totem was in his pool enclosure facing east, bathing himself in the early morning sun. He was balancing on his ample bottom, with his feet up in the air in a “v” shape, his front paws holding onto his back paws. He was holding perfectly still. Jean couldn’t believe it. He rushed to get someone else to witness it; “Do you see that? Do you see that? Teton is doing yoga!” Drawings by Jean of Teton Totem (Left) and Humble Bumble (Right) stretching It wasn’t a fleeting action. He held the position for several minutes. And he hadn’t...

-- by Susan Eirich, PhD -- They emerge slowly, tentatively– is it time yet? A damp nose. Sleepy little brown eyes. Fuzzy ears. One front leg reaches out of the den entrance. Followed by another. Slowly the front of the body emerges, seeming to expand as it squeezes out the narrow entrance. Half in and half out, the back arches in another streeeeeeetch. Then the back half emerges. Nothing is rushed. Once out, another long, luxurious, stretch. After all, it’s been four months…… (Bears are more like us than we think) They sniff around a bit, not too lively yet. We offer lettuce to ease their fast. They nibble half-heartedly. Their stomachs aren’t quite up to it. We give them...

-- by Susan Eirich, PhD -- The phone rang: “I have something that belongs to you,” the voice said. “But first we have to meet because it comes with an explanation.” Judith and I met at the local library. She was carrying a flat dress box. Inside lay a very intriguing work of art. Inscribed on the first leaf of this handmade “book” was the statement: “I am Bluebell.” Judith, a fiber artist, began to tell me about its two-year journey. Connecting with Bluebell “I received a request to create an art piece for a nonprofit benefit on the theme “Bison.” I had seen the massive creatures in Yellowstone with butterscotch calves. I had seen the lovely paintings and...

-- by Susan Eirich, PhD -- Jean came to the door with a soft concern in his brown eyes, tenderly holding what looked like an unmoving mound of cream colored feathers. It was Banty, a tough little rooster brought to his knees by the – 20 degree cold. A long-term resident, Banty had been raised by Esmerelda, a motherly turkey hen who was never able to hatch any of her own chicks. She was a splendid, ever-patient mother to him, and for her whole life he was the apple of her eye who could do no wrong. She was partial towards him even when he was a grown chicken. He was her only son. Jean had found Banty huddled on the ground in his coop, weak and unable to stand. His neck was twisted 180...

Among other animals we had an exquisite, playful, affectionate cougar girl here, Tahi, and a determined little three-legged deer, Runs-Like-the-Wind. We treasured them both. Spending time with a member of any species gives you great appreciation for how wondrous each one is and makes it hard to value one over another. On New Year’s Day Amy, who originally rescued our baby deer, came to take him for an expedition in the woods on our property. As she was walking with him he suddenly bolted. She looked up and there was a cougar not 20 feet away. Her husband, Brian, was up ahead and had been seen it running in her direction. By the time Amy saw it, the cougar had just apparently seen her,...

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