Feeding the Bear

“Why are we stopping at Wheatsville, we just went shopping?”


When Leo is home from college it’s just a given that I have to maintain a supply of frozen blueberries. He eats them in a stainless steel mixing bowl like a bear at the zoo.  I’m sure he eats more blueberries than the average bear. Trying to be the good organic mama, I buy him those precious little bags of frozen organic blueberries. I would always look for sales or store brands but it takes a big bite out of our weekly grocery budget. We know when the bear is home and midway through the holiday break I toss out any concern I have about organic and go for the three pound bags at HEB.

I have to lay down the frozen fruit law for the visiting bear. I’m not sure why, but the cost of frozen blueberries has spiked. The new rule is no more than half a bag of blues a day – and he has to switch fruits to cheaper frozen options like raspberries and mango chunks. The bear sulks and eats raspberries and mangos between his allotted servings of blueberries. If the bear goes too many days without his ration I notice changes in his mood.  He is grouchier and won’t give his brother the time of day. I know blackmail when I see it.

He can’t just come clean and state his demands but I know bear behavior. What he doesn’t know is that I use his covert blackmail scheme to my advantage. It’s animal training 101, give rewards intermittently and the desired behavior increases. I time my blueberry purchases strategically.  For example, this morning I needed Leo to get up and get Eli out of the house.

This brings me back to my Wheatsville blueberry run.

Our neighborhood co-op currently has a great deal on three pound bags of frozen blueberries.  A cup of coffee for me and a bag of blueberries for the bear – my unknowing partner in crime. I walk upstairs and find the bear asleep on the couch. I say good morning to Eli and ask him what he has planned for the day.

“I’d like to hang out with Leo if he’s free.”

I shake the bag of berries next to the sleeping bear and his eyes partially open. Like a subliminal message, I know the bear has heard Eli’s request while I continue to shake the bag. In my most sunny, it’s-a-beautiful-day voice I ask if he minds waking up and doing something with Eli. The bear grumbles. I walk downstairs and put the berries in the freezer.

Twenty minutes later the bear comes down. The response time is better than I had predicted. He is moving hours before he is usually up.  Without contact the bear picks up his stainless steel bowl and fills it with frozen blueberries. He eats the berries on the couch next to Big Otis. His lips and teeth are blue and his mood becomes more engaging.

He smiles a big blue-mouthed smile. This signals to Eli that it is safe to sit next to the bear and discuss plans. Eli wants to go to lunch and play basketball. The bear has only eaten enough blueberries to agree to lunch but we all know a second helping will get Eli some basketball time. The bear has to first brush the blue from his teeth, the evidence of his weakness, and then the brothers are out the door. Mission accomplished.

Blueberries really are a super food.

4 thoughts on “Feeding the Bear

  1. Love this so much……glad you have a bear at home also…..we “kindly” refer to Maura as LBG ( little brown grizzly) and worn one another when she is of “mauling” mood mostly mornings before 10 AM- I only wish frozen blueberries worked on her…..

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