Disclaimer: This isn’t Bruno. I just think this might be how he feels right now. Thanks to photographer Bradley Howington on Unsplash

Bruno isn’t his real name. And the Illinois cornfields are not his natural home. Bruno showed up in late June, wandering south in farm country. Experts assume he is on a trek for a mate. Black bears have not lived in this part of the Midwest since the 1800’s, so spotting one walking between the rows of a bean field is kind of a big deal.

Now, we all want to help him get wherever he is going. Leaving him alone is the best thing to do, of course. Since we humans aren’t good at that, local law enforcement and state agencies are now involved in following from a distance.

Tee shirts have been made. Facebook pages have been created. We are one big club cheering on the poor guy as he meanders along. He doesn’t seem to be in a hurry, but the social pressure may be pushing him. He has gone as much as 50 miles a day in hot weather.

Yesterday, he started swimming across the Mississippi River toward Missouri. We had the welcome signs out, but he took a break on an island. He appears to be dodging the paparazzi for now. The best case scenario will be for him to make it to the Missouri Ozarks where he can disappear into the forests where other black bears live. We will all assume he has found the girl of his dreams.

And, we will be grateful. During a summer where the world was strangely tilted and relationships were distanced, Bruno gave us a glimpse of perseverance. And diversion. And the reminder that not all unexpected events are bad.

Thanks, Bruno. Safe travels.