Monday, February 27, 2012

God's Dog.....The White Bear

If you've ever received a Christmas card showing the picture of a Polar Bear and a Penguin standing next to each other, the picture was altered.  Polar bears live only in Arctic areas surrounding the North Pole, while Penguins live almost exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere.

Until this morning, I did not know that the word arctic comes from the Greek word for bear, and antarctic comes from the Greek meaning the opposite, without bear. 

This day is set aside on the international calendar to pay our respect for the Polar Bear that lives in five nations:  U.S. (Alaska), Canada, Russia, Greenland, and Norway.

Lonely Roamer
The Inuit people, or Eskimos as we affectionately refer to them, call the polar bear Nanuk, the animal worthy of great respect.  Some call the polar bear the great lonely roamer.
The Russian term for polar bear is beliy medved, the white bear.
In Norway and Denmark, the polar bear is isbjorn, the ice bear.
In eastern Greenland, the polar bear is known as Tornassuk, the master of helping spirits.
The Lapp or Sami people of Lapland refuse to speak the polar bear's real name for fear of offending him.  Instead they call him God's dog or old man in the fur cloak.
The Ket, a Siberian tribe, revere all bears.  They call them gyp, grandfather, or qoi, stepfather.

Polar Bears have really big paws that can measure 12 inches across.  They're like snowshoes that help distribute the bear's weight over a large area, making it easier for them to walk on thin ice.  If a polar bear senses that ice is thin, it will spread its weight out by crawling on its belly so it won't break through.  Sometimes there's nothing it can do except go for an unexpected dunk.

Hind and Front Tracks
If a person was tracking a polar bear in the snow, this is what the tracks would look like.  The smaller foot pad is the front track, and the larger is the hind track.  When they swim, they use their front feet to paddle and their hind feet to steer them through the water.  

Polars, when left to themselves, are affectionate, playful, well-groomed, and well-mannered.  If one bear has had a successful hunt, he will share with other bears if asked politely.  To join in the meal, another bear must approach the owner of the food in a submissive, low-to-the-ground position and slowly circle the carcass.  Then the bears must greet each other by touching noses.  Once they do this, they will eat together.

Well, I'll be jiggered.  Is this how the Eskimos learned to rub their noses together?

(Mama wants me to
take a nap now)