Olivia Germano watches the bears in her backyard every day.

Sometimes, they act in ways that remind her of herself and her own children.

Like a day in early April, for example, when a family of bears sauntered up to her house in Unionville, Connecticut, and hopped onto the trampoline.

“They love to be on the trampoline, a lot,” she told McClatchy News. “They play… they jump. They even playfully fight, if you want to call it that. They’re just really funny, and the mom sometimes just lays and watches them while they do that.”

The mama bear in Germano’s backyard has four cubs, and Germano herself has five children, who range in age from 13 to 36, but still, the way the bear family plays makes her think of her own family — or the way any human family might spend an afternoon together in the yard.

“I think it just reminds us that we are very similar,” she said. “I protect my babies, mama protects her babies. She watches them play, I watched mine play.”

Germano and her family have been coexisting with the bears for years, and they visit her yard almost every day. They share the space, but when Germano and her family see the bears coming, they go inside.

“They’re very slow in how they walk around, so they do give you time to get away,” she said.

Germano said she enjoys having the bear family around. Now that most of her children are grown, she devotes much of her time to writing. She covers many topics, including her own story of escaping communist Poland as a young teenager and moving to the United States, where she was reunited with her father, who escaped years before, and was thrown into high school as a ninth-grader without knowing English.

She just finished another book about folk tales and ghost stories from Unionville, which is about 15 miles west of Hartford, and is working on a new novel about her aunt, who was taken to labor camps by Germans at 16 years old .

Today, as she writes and watches the bears, who she calls “part of the family,” she wonders about their story, too.

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“I always wonder what the mama thinks,” she said. “Seeing her kids play and relax… a lot of times that’s what we do. We’re calm. Sometimes we hide things inside, worries that I’m sure she worries about as well.”

Germano’s struggles, her joys and her love for her children are all things she says she sees reflected in her backyard family members.

“It’s great to watch them. It’s great to see the kids grow and mature,” she said. “I think it’s just a blessing that we get these visitors literally daily at our house.”

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