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Oh Willie...

I have a stalker.

Not really, but recently on my runs, I've run into Willie.

Short for Sillie Willie.

Looking at the birdhouse in our neighbor's yard across the street

Willie is our friendly neighborhood bear.

Yes, I've named him.

Having grown up in Michigan, I've seen bears. Not in my front yard, mind you, but I've seen them.

Back when there were "town dumps" (usually in far northern Michigan), we'd load up the family, grab our trash, and head out, hoping to see the bears digging though for goodies.

We didn't see them everytime, but we did see them occasionally.

I've had more bear sightings in the past month, then my entire time living in Michigan.

Now, I'm not sure that the bear I have see on my past several runs has been the same bear, but who's a big black bear!!!

He has come to say hi while I've been cooking dinner on the grill in the backyard. (Far left photo)

One day he decided to climb over the fence, eat a bunch of cherries off our cherry tree, then climb back over and head to the next house. (Middle photo)

We typically see him on Monday nights and Tuesdays...trash day. (Far right, in our neighbors yard)

But in the weeks leading up to my half marathon, I had run 5 times, leaving from my house...and I saw him 4 out of 5.

The first sighting, I was walking out the door to go for my run, and Willie was across the street, checking out the neighbors trash. I decided to wait a few minutes, then run in the opposite direction of where he was headed.

A few days later, I ran to a neighborhood I frequently run in, and he crossed the street in front of me.

A couple of days after that he was laying in the front yard of a house in a different neighborhood down the road from ours--about a mile into my run. The road was a cul-du-sac, so I had passed him before I realized it, and then had to run back past him. He just looked at me as if I was crazy, and laid his head back down to nap some more.

The day after that, I went into a different neighborhood in the opposite direction, again about a mile away, and this time, he again, walked across the street in front of me. This neighborhood had a side street that I was planning to take to loop back, but Willie was heading in that direction, and I just knew I'd run into him again. I decided to turn around and go back the way I came.

Sorry, I have not stopped my run to take pictures...I just stayed out of his way, and moved along.

As you might have guessed, we have a few bears in our town.

They've been known to walk down the main street.

Our Saturday morning running group saw one on a recent run as well...and we run start our runs from "downtown".

My mom is very concerned that I don't call someone about the bear, and have him removed.

To where?

I personally believe that in trying to grow our town, and build more and more housing, the bears have had to relocate.

I live across from a wonderful wooded area, called Walker Woods, that has been "preserved" by The Trust for Public Land (a national organization). It is a wonderful place to hike, run, ride bikes, you name it. There is a great map online, and it is pretty well marked with "blazes" and signage.

I run there all the time.

I've yet to see a bear there, but other people have.

In the other direction "was" another wooded area named, "The Powder Forest". There are a lot of stories as to why it is named that, but I think it has something to do with the gunpowder factory in town.

Anyway, this large tract of land has been cleared by several housing developments.

And I believe has displaced Willie and his friends.

It is unfortunate that we have taken over Willie's home to make it our own, and I'm not sure what the solution is.

The damage is done.

We should be able to figure out a way to live together. I mean, the bears were here first.

Right now, I am sure that Willie is out and about gaining the weight he needs to make it through the winter. It won't be long before he goes to his den and hibernates til next Spring.

I'm going to miss Willie during my runs.

But for now, Willie is my neighbor. And unlike my other neighbors, I'm going give him a lot of space.

See you next run Willie, and if not, have a nice sleep and see you in the Spring.

I have a feeling I'll see Willie again soon.

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