In 2010, I wrote a blog post for this website that I called “Teddy Bear Country,” in which I attempted to answer my daughter’s question: “Why are bears like babies?” She meant, why are bears so often portrayed in an infantile fashion, as in modern versions of “The Three Bears,” and the ubiquitous teddy bear?
As soon as she asked, I became obsessed with the notion.
Eleven thousand years ago, the North American short face bear became extinct, along with the rest of the continent’s megafauna. It was a deadly predator, perhaps one of the deadliest mammals ever, and some people believe its existence may have delayed the dominance of humans in North America by several hundred years.
Yet, 11,000 years later, the short face bear’s local kin–grizzlies, black bears, and polar bears–are as wild as ever, but they are often mistaken for someone who wants a cuddle. Read more at Luna Station Quarterly…
I’m grateful to have had a peaceful Christmas with my family. It was magical to wake up Christmas morning to a world blanketed in glistening snow.
This was followed by one of the best New Year’s Eve celebrations I’ve had. We got together with old friends, at a farm in the country, and began the festivities with a winter walk. We found a poor little vole that poked out from the snow, saw a group of 12 people staring at it, and promptly scurried away. Later, we saw more vole tracks interrupted by the sweep of a great horned owl’s wing. We came upon a frozen pond and made snow angels. Some of our group decided to form “2017” in the snow, in numbers large enough to be seen from the sky. Our host wanted to show us the “magic forest” where, deep under snowdrifts in a bare wood, we discovered bubbles frozen in water, and in time.
It sifts from Leaden Sieves-
It powders all the Wood.
It fills with Alabaster Wool
The Wrinkles of the Road-
It makes an Even Face
Of Mountain, and of Plain-
Unbroken Forehead from the East
Unto the East again-
It reaches to the Fence-
It wraps it Rail by Rail
Till it is lost in Fleeces-
It deals Celestial Vail
To Stump, and Stack-and Stem-
A Summer's empty Room-
Acres of Joints, where Harvests were,
Recordless, but for them-
It Ruffles Wrists of Posts
As Ankles of a Queen-
Then stills its Artisans-like Ghosts-
Denying they have been-
~Emily Dickinson, c. 1862
Once, in another time,
I believed that souls resided in trees.
I worked a lifetime tracing branches
seeking out the one tree that would hold my spirit.
I once thought I could know a tree’s source,
to pull back the bark and see a code,
each tree a shining universe.
Taken from–“The Last Arborist” by Paul Wilson
The poem above is featured on the back of a pamphlet I picked up today called “Portraits of Survivors,” a show of Saskatchewan and Costa Rican-based artist Linda Moskalyk’s breathtaking series (in collage and acrylic) of the “survivors,” the large trees she has seen emerging from a Costa Rican second growth forest canopy as the lone remainders (reminders) of the old growth forest that had been cut down. I popped into the Meewasin Valley Centre in Saskatoon today, not knowing that Linda Moskalyk’s work was on exhibit there. It took my breath away. “Last One Standing” was my favorite.
If you are in Saskatoon this summer, I urge you to visit the Meewasin Valley Centre Gallery and see how moving and detailed these portraits are, and if, not please visit Linda Moskalyk’s Web site for more about this fascinating woman, her beautiful creations, and the work she does teaching art to children in Costa Rica in addition to raising awareness of how essential are trees, and how much we need them.