2022—Big Teddy Bear

The Kodiak Brown Bears we photographed on Kodiak Island in May reminded me of three things: grazing cattle, lazy dogs, and big Teddy Bears. This shot especially, makes me think of my older brother’s Teddy Bear, circa 1941, a moth-eaten Steiff mohair bear that I played with occasionally after he outgrew it. I mentioned this incident a year ago when I posted a photograph of a Kodiak Brown I called Steiff on Steroids. The last time I played with my brother’s bear, my friend and I were flinging it to each other from our positions at the top and bottom of the staircase. This upset my mother who put an immediate stop to the activity. I think one of the legs came off while we played catch so I guess it’s no wonder she was upset at us for abusing one of her first born’s treasures. She put that bear someplace I didn’t have access to and I never played with it again. The Teddy Bear was created by someone who made children’s stuffed toys as a way to honor President Teddy Roosevelt after he refused to shoot a bear that was tied to a tree, saying it was unsportsmanlike. But the Kodiak Browns we saw and photographed (our guides referred to them as “river bears”) appeared so gentle and serene. They looked so cuddly, like this bear, I could see how they became such iconic playthings for children. However, it never crossed my mind that I might try to toss one down a stairwell by its leg.