It’s Spring time here at The Institute and the land is waking up. The grass is greening, there’s fresh new leaves on all the foliage, there is warmth in the sunshine as it lights up the meadow floors, and our resident Border Patrol members are checking back in.
As we have mentioned in the past we use a highly trained specialized group of Ursus Americanus or the American Black bear to patrol our inner borders around the campus here at The Institute to discourage tourists, intruders, interns from leaving, and anyone not authorized to be on the grounds. All of the other members of the team had checked in and were patrolling their territories except for our bear that patrols the western edge of the campus.
This would be Edith Halfway Jones. Edith was supposed to have checked in back on May 5th but she was a no-show and was placed on our AWOL list and was scheduled for termination, of her job, not of herself, had she not shown up by the 15th.
This is what the innermost border of the campus looks like from the main building of The Institute. This little saddle is a little over ¼ mile away and is the closest boundary that protects the main campus area. There are several more boundaries that extend out to the utmost edge of The Institute’s grounds many miles away. One of interns on watch yelled down from the observation tower “Bear in the saddle!” excitedly, then “It looks like Edith!”
We quickly went to the primary optical bear recording device set up to keep watch over our Border patrol and extended it to its fullest reach of 800mm and could see that it was indeed Edith and that she was busy stuffing her face with new grass and looking rather fatigued. Normally she would be in a focused no-nonsense pose with an attitude of “Don’t even think about coming in here.”. But that wasn’t the case today.
She was acting peculiar since she had been spotted and we were concerned that perhaps she was off her feed or in some sort of funk, or maybe just burned out. That happens in a high-stress job such as hers. She kept looking over to a stand of trees and we thought, OK here ‘s our first contact with a trespasser this year, and bets were already being made on the number of pieces we’d find in the morning.
Then she went over to one of the trees next to the saddle and we were saying to each other “Hiding up there ain’t going to help that guy. Edith can climb like a Rhesus when she wants to” and sure enough up the tree she went. We were focusing our sound recorders on the tree waiting for the screams that usually followed Edith climbing into the tree, but instead we got a big surprise.
She came back down with a little bear. A very small one in fact. “Where’d she get that ?” one of the interns asked. We sent him down to the Nurse who explained very clearly where Edith got that and he was properly mortified. Some of the young female interns were picking at the buttons on his shirt and talking quietly to him which seemed to make matters worse for the poor soul, especially when they would say something then giggle. This explained a lot of things. Why Edith looked peaked and run down. Why she didn’t act like her old self. Why she was irritable and impatient about turning in her reports. We wondered how it was going to work out with a single mother doing a full-time job and caring for little Fleabert too, but we needn’t have worried.
Edith is a trooper and a dedicated employee. She found a place to hide Little Fleabert, stopped to test the wind and get the lay of the land, then went off to make her rounds. Everyone gave a quiet but heartfelt cheer and watched as she went over the far side of the saddle to quietly but efficiently do her job. We all slept better last night.