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402 days. 402 (plus or minus… mostly minus) posts.

Tag: bear

Day 110: Sleeping Soundly

I still sleep with a stuffed animal.

He’s an adorable, well-kept and not-too-soft but not-too-firm white bear, about 12 inches long from head to toe. He has a disproportionately large head, black circles for a nose, ears and paws, and black caterpillar-shaped eyes that seem both kind and sort of absent. His legs bend forward at the hips and his arms open gently with a little pressure. The tops of his feet and nose have worn away slightly, revealing the beige knitted pattern beneath his fur.

He’s 27 and a half years old. I know, because I got him as a “we-still-love-you-but-you’re-no-longer-our-only-child” gift when my middle sister was born. She got Bun Bun around the same time—a floppy pink rabbit that barely survived toddlerhood.

My bear doesn’t have a name; just a gender. I think he made it through the tough years because I never played with him or dragged him down store aisles or up trees—I just tucked him into the triangle of my chest and upper arms each night and slept soundly.

A few days ago, my mom shared an article with my sisters and me titled A Firm Grasp on Comfort. In it, Dr. Barbara Howard, a developmental-behavioral pediatrician at Johns Hopkins, posits that as many as 25 percent of young women going off to college take their childhood comfort objects with them. At 18, I was one of those 25 percent. At 30, I’m guessing the percentage of us has dwindled significantly, especially since many of my peers are giving comfort objects to children of their own now.

Although I don’t travel with the bear (he just looks so sad when I try to squish and cram him into luggage), I’ve grown seriously accustomed to him. In Australia, I bunched a travel pillow into his general shape and snuggled it into my shoulder every night. On the occasions when I don’t have a travel pillow, I usually roll up a sweatshirt instead.

It’s unclear to me whether this is out of habit, ergonomics or nostalgia, but the fact is that I just sleep better with my arms around something.

So, I’m curious. How many of us are still out there, hugging stuffed animals and sneaking peeks at ragged silk blankets? (Blanket people—even though I am not one of you, I think we’re part of the same category here.) I’d love to read your comments if you have them.

BearThat’s him.

Day 95: A Black Bear

I’m a city girl by brain, but my heart lives in some kind of amalgamation of woods, fields, rivers and oceans. This afternoon, I stood on a street corner while cars screeched by and people laughed in coffee shops and I smelled it… nature! Spring! I know spring is still a ways away and I’ve already posted extensively on it here, here and here, but my heart is so ready for those little green buds.

In honor of the coming freshness, coolness, lightness and root-growing, here’s a poem by one of my favorite poets:

by Mary Oliver

a black bear
has just risen from sleep
and is staring

down the mountain.
All night
in the brisk and shallow restlessness
of early spring

I think of her,
her four black fists
flicking the gravel,
her tongue

like a red fire
touching the grass,
the cold water.
There is only one question:

how to love this world.
I think of her
like a black and leafy ledge

to sharpen her claws against
the silence
of the trees.
Whatever else

my life is
with its poems
and its music
and its cities,

it is also this dazzling darkness
down the mountain,
breathing and tasting;

all day I think of her –
her white teeth,
her wordlessness,
her perfect love.