My friend Jean Reagan is a National Park Service Ranger, as is her husband. As volunteers they're not "full-fledged" rangers in that they don't have law enforcement credentials. As Jean tells us, "We are assigned a patrol area in the Grand Tetons, and patrol three lakes; Leigh, Bearpaw and Trapper. We hike and canoe through the area during each summer. Our duties include checking permits, educating visitors about wildlife and responding to emergencies. We are the eyes and ears of the NPS. Quite simply, we LOVE it!"
Jean shares, "This cabin is our home during the summer. There is no running water or electricity, but it does have bars on the windows to keep out the bears. And, thanks to an antenna attached to a frying pan perched on our roof we have reasonable cellphone reception." (who knew?)
I asked Jean to tell us her best bear story. (You'll really like this one!)
"Last summer when my daughter Jane and I hiked to where a problem bear had been reported, we finally spotted this huge, huge bear at the base of a white bark pine. After observing it for awhile I said, "I do NOT like how that bear is glaring at us!" My daughter corrected me, laughing, "Mom, that's its butt! Its head is rooting in the dirt." My eyes adjusted and I realized that the nose I saw was actually a tail. The "glare" I saw was just my scaredy-cat imagination.
"In the evening after we've finished patrolling, we sit on our porch and watch "Leigh Lake TV." We wait to see what the real nature channel has to offer. Sometimes nothing appears. But, so often we see all kinds of wildlife wander by. Bears, elk, moose, deer, otters, eagles, waterfowl, snowshoe hare, pine martens, fox and even a mountain lion and her kits. Once it's pitch black when the lake is completely placid, we can see constellations reflected in mirror image on the surface of the water. Nothing in the electrified world can compete with that magic."
Even Rangers Write!
I met Jean as a member of a writer's group when she was working on this wonderful book. Here's more about Jean and her great love of writing for children.
"My first picture book, Always My Brother (Tilbury House, 2009) came from a tragedy that struck our family-our son John died in 2005. This book does not exactly mirror our own family's story, yet it does tap into the emotions and experience of our loss. My new picture book, How To Babysit A Grandpa, is a fun, silly book inspired by many memories of John. Now my next project is a 'Grandma' companion book.
Recently when I was book-signing for How to Babysit a Grandpa at an event, a young couple who had just found out they were expecting their first child asked me to sign a copy to use as a birth announcement to their parents. I signed it, "Congratulations on becoming grandparents!!" Puts a smile on my face every time I think of it.
To learn more about Jean Reagan's books or see more about her time as a wilderness volunteer ranger, visit her website; http://www.jeanreagan.com