Two years ago today a great man died. He was my father.
That’s Jim Gardner in the photo below. Don’t be alarmed. That’s not an ogre dragging hapless bears away for dinner. Dad was a biologist. Here, he is holding a pair of yearlings, tranquilized in their dens during hibernation so radio collars can be attached. But, yes, he really was as big as he appears — 6 feet 4 inches with hands like, well, bear paws.
Dad loved the bush and everything in it, including, maybe especially, bears. He worked for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and so we sometimes found ourselves raising orphaned animals, including, on two occasions, suckling cubs. Some day I’ll post the picture of me, at the age of 11, with a prominent hickey. A bear hickey. It was the source of much gossip in grade six.
Not many kids get to discover that bear cubs give hickeys. I did.
Thank you, dad.