Irene Ness and I were friends. She looked very much like a Norwegian “Yenta” with her blond pigtails and very blue eyes.I came up to her shoulders, but then she was 9 and I was only 8. We were both Norwegian girls but I didn’t share that classic look probably because of my short ash brown hair and my green eyes.
Our parents had long conversations about the two families traveling together to Yellowstone National Park. Their conversations and dreams became a reality. Our two families, two cars and all our camping equipment left our little town in Northern Minnesota . It was the summer of 1935. Though we lost each other several times during the trip, probably because Daddy had a habit of finding “shortcuts,” we did end up at Yellowstone the same day!
Irene and I were to sleep in our car and the boys would sleep in the Ness car. It was late when we got to bed that first night.
“What if a bear comes during the night?” Irene sounded like she was afraid which made me afraid too. Irene was much braver than I.
“A bear couldn’t get into the car, could it,” I squeaked.
“I don’t think so,” Irene didn’t sound like she was very sure. However, we talked far into the night as girls do. I’m not sure when we got to sleep.
I awoke first, hearing a thumping sound and was thinking the boys were just trying to scare us. I sat up and looked square into the eyes of a bear. she was standing up on her hind legs peering into the window. Irene sat up and we clung to each other screaming as loud as we could.
Daddy and Mr. Ness came out of their tents. Daddy, pulling on his pants as he ran and Mr. Ness came out without any pants at all, just wearing his long johns. The bear probably scared herself as she saw that vision. Anyhow, she ran away!
Later, while we were eating breakfast, the bear returned. Everyone scurried to the cars,
everyone, that is, except Irene. She grabbed some pots and pans from the table and began banging them like crazy!
The bear ran and the two families came out of the cars staring incredulously at Irene.
“What on earth were you thinking? Where did you ever learn to do that?” Irene’s mother asked.
“I read it in a book, Irene said, her eyes wide with fright. Then she ran, sobbing, into her mother’s arms.
Courage is within us and comes at life’s most unexpected moments. I’m thinking today of a woman who ran inside her burning home to rescue her dog. When it was all over she couldn’t imagine doing that. That is when we need someone’s arms around us. Who better to do that than our Heavenly Father who, like Irene;s mother, always waits with open arms
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