Oh Give Me a Home, Where Lots of Bears Roam

Ever since Tara moved in, we’ve been at (playful) odds over where we’d like to live. Not tomorrow, or next month…we’re going to be in the apartment for a few years, there’s no way around that. We’re talking in the long run, when we are able to buy a house together.

Tara, being a small-town girl (livin’ in a lonely woorrrlllddd…oops, sorry), has long advocated we buy rural property in the country, while I’ve pushed for an urban home in the heart of Portland.

“We can have chickens,” she says.
“We can have chicken from that trendy new bistro down the street,” I reply.

She pushes for solitude and open space, while I say it would be cool to be able to walk to Mississippi Studios to catch live music.

“We’d never find a parking space,” she warns.
“We could get eaten by a bear walking to the mailbox,” I counter.
“I hate traffic,” she says.
“I hate getting eaten by bears walking to the mailbox,” I say.

We have been at an impasse since Day 1.

That impasse might finally have broken over the weekend. We were invited to an “End of Summer Party” by a former coworker named Jessica. Her address was Brush Prairie, Washington. OK, there were numbers and a street name in there as well, but the important takeaway here is Brush Prairie. This area is rural by Clark County standards. Of course, by Ely standards it’s a freakin’ metropolis, but whatever. Saturday evening, we hopped in Tara’s truck and made the drive to Jessica’s house.

Turns out it was much more rural than we expected. We drove through Hockinson – the area Tara keeps pushing for – and continued into the foothills. Soon, the paved road gave way to gravel, and we found ourselves in front of a cute little house in the middle of the forest. It was surrounded by tall trees and featured a babbling brook that spilled into a pond. The scent of pine and wood smoke filled the air. It was like camping, but instead of a tent there was a cozy ranch-style house with a wraparound porch and a jacuzzi. Jessica’s got a chicken coop and a greenhouse and a garden and, best of all, complete and utter privacy.

“This is wonderful!” I gushed. “Umm, what kind of wildlife do you have out here?”

This was my subtle way of asking whether she had ever encountered a bear out there. I love animals, but I’m not going to lie to you: bears scare me. I used to hike alone quite often, and always in the back of my mind I feared rounding a bend in the trail and running into a bear. My fear is not unfounded: this is bear country. We may not have grizzlies, but I wouldn’t want to tangle with a black bear, either. Especially a mama black bear with baby black bear cubs.

Turns out there are bears out there. They’ve even come right onto Jessica’s deck. I glanced around nervously because I was standing on said deck when she made that pronouncement, but there were a whole bunch of other people there and music was playing so I felt relatively safe, despite the fact that the aroma of grilling meat was wafting through the forested (and apparently bear-populated) air.

Jessica's property.
Jessica’s property.

Despite that, I fell in love with the place. And came around to Tara’s way of thinking. There’s a lot to be said for a quiet little oasis in the middle of the woods. The privacy. The quiet. The fact that we would be surrounded by nature. And if we do want to check out that trendy new bistro, we’ve got cars to whisk us into the city. Portland really isn’t that far. Especially by those aforementioned Ely standards.

The downside? We grabbed a flyer for a neighboring property that was for sale. Asking price? $400 thousand. It would take a small miracle (or a big inheritance) to be able to afford something like that, so we might have to compromise. There are other areas in Brush Prairie and Hockinson that aren’t quite as secluded, but still plenty rural. They’d probably be more in our price range.

So congratulations, honey. You win.

I’ll just load up on bear spray for those walks to the mailbox…

Howdy, neighbor!
Howdy, neighbor!

Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

7 thoughts on “Oh Give Me a Home, Where Lots of Bears Roam

  1. Enjoyed the post, Mark! I can hear you arguing about bears, and honestly that’s justified. My oldest brother was hiking with his wife when they did just round a corner and happened upon a bear. They slowly backed away and hid in…wait for it…an outhouse for over an hour waiting for the bear to continue down the path and away from them.

    But homes in the woods are gorgeous. For a writer especially, that’s some prime muse-worthy visuals out there. So I see both sides. Good luck in your epic house hunt and definitely buy some bear spray. 😉


    1. People always say, “Does a bear shit in the woods?” when something is obvious. I knew this was true, but I’m kinda surprised bears are classy enough to use outhouses.

      I will admit, the idea of a writing retreat in the woods is extremely appealing!


  2. There was a black bear sighting about a mile from me last month and I’m in the suburbs of a fairly urban area. Bears are everywhere!

    The country seems nice, but I get so tired of driving. I like to be within five minutes of a grocery store.


    1. We’ve had urban bear sightings around here, too. I guess I could conceivably see one while walking to 7-Eleven. Speaking of, you have a good point: living in the country, running out of milk is a very big deal. Definitely gotta plan ahead!


  3. ““We can have chickens,” she says.
    “We can have chicken from that trendy new bistro down the street,” I reply.”

    HA! Mark, you crack me up!

    Like you, I prefer urban living, however, I also enjoy everything that rural living offers. I can so see myself having both a place in the city and a place in the country because I like a balance of both.


    1. That’s the real solution, Ron. Multiple homes. I love the way you think! And while we’re at it, I also want a place on the Oregon coast. A beach house to offset my house in the woods, if you will.


  4. I am a city girl at heart. I did the rural once, found it well horrifying. I will visit but at the end of the day, I like the city. Eventually I will sell my current suburbia house left over from my defunct marriage and move even closer to the city, maybe not this city but some city.


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