I came across this bear skull set on a cedar stump in a selectively logged forest in July, 2015. Over a foot long, the skull’s front fangs are gone. The back molars, made for chewing up berries, grubs and vegetation, confirm the jaw of an omnivore. The stump and the skeleton may both be of similar age – over a century, maybe two, invested in this cycle of bear-tree life.
In William Stafford’s great poem of “bear skull wisdom,” the narrator warns of “Something too dark….held in that strong bone.”