Odessa Lee, who has lived with her husband in a little white house near Springfield for 43 years, was out planting marigolds in her yard yesterday morning when she saw the bear.

It bolted form a patch of woods between Old Keene Mill Road and a cluster of garden apartments and started along a path carpeted with poison ivy and decorated with a corn chips bag and a can of cherry cola. Then, according to Odessa Lee, it headed into traffice.

Mrs. Lee, who is 73 and who said she knew right off that that bear wasn't a dog, went to tell her husband about what had just loped through theri yard. "I told him, 'Believe it not, I saw a black bear out there.' And he said me, 'Ah, go on.'"

While Freeman Gaylord Lee, who is 80, was trying to convince his wife that she had seen a dog, the bear successfully dodged rush-hour traffic and jumped into the backyard of a house across the road. There it aroused the ire of a real dog.

Fairfax County policeman Dean E. Roan, directed to the area by a passing motorist who reported seeing a bear in traffic, heard a dog barking and spotted the bear walking around in the back yard. The bear then jumped

The bear was hit twice, first by a woman driving a yellow compact car, Road said, and then by a second vehicle. Neither the bear nor the cars sustained visible damage, according to police. But the bear ran across the road and through the woods, past the can of cherry cola.

"I hit a bear," the young woman driving the compact told Roan.

Odessa Lee, who had convinced her husband that she hadn't seen a dog, watched the bear disappear into the woods. "Oh," she said later, "he was black and he weighed between 300 and 400 pounds."

Virginia game warden Barry Lape, a veteran of three suburban bear alerts in the past two years, said he doubted the bear was that big. "Last year in the Lake Barcroft area there were reports of a bear seven feet tall and wighing 350 pounds. When we caught it, it only weighed 160 pounds."

Police officers and three animal wardens looked for the bear yesterday morning for a couple of hours, police said.

Garfield Elementary School, located on Old Keene Mill Road near where the bear was spotted, bused all students who normally walk home from school. Rolling Valley Elementary advised its students to walk straight home and stay out of the woods.

The bear was last seen yesterday afternoon heading south along Accotink Creek near Fort Belvoir.

Police warned that since the bear may be injuried, anyone sighting it should contact police and stay away from the animal.

The Lees, who sat on their porch drinking soda and relaxing after the bear departed, said they enjoyed the excitement. Lee said he was "on the bear side" and that he hoped it would never be caugth.

His wife, who remembered seeing "10 or 13 wild turkneys" behind her house back in 1935, said, "This is the first real live bear we've had here."