In the summer of 2021, my cousin Diana and I rode bicycles up the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park. Before beginning, we were warned to shout ahead of any turns to ensure that we didn't surprise any bears, advice that we heeded religously.

And yet suddenly, after rounding a corner, we heard a growl—I looked up and made eye contact with a massive bear, just a few feet above us on the rocky cliff, overseeing its two cubs as they climbed down towards us. We raced away, hearts pounding. A safe distance away, we turned around to see the bear family standing on the road where we had just been.

Animal encounters—whether with a bear or a praire dog—always remind me that we are a part of the beautiful, interdependent ecosystem that is life.