Special Bond between mama bear and cub

You all know I am a super fans of Michio Hoshino.

Last year before my Arctic trip, I stopped by the Museum of the North in Fairbanks, Alaska, where I saw his writing on a wall:

Tramping through the mountains of Alaska, I frequently encountered grizzlies. One spring day I spotted a grizzly sow and cub playing in the lingering snow. They were in the midst of a game of tag. When the cub ran away, the sow would pursue it. These actions were repeated many times, until the sow finally caught the cub. I burst out laughing at the scene that followed, as the mother bear continued to play with her young. The sow firmly grasped the cub with two paws and rolled down the mountain slope, the cub in her arms.

Michio Hoshino, 1987.

Next to the writing was a photo of a mama bear with her two cubs on her back, while she was turning her face to attend to them, with so much pride and love in her eyes.

I was deeply touched, frozen in front of this for minutes.

I saw two more of his writings:

The wind that carried away
your grandfather’s last breath
Gave it to a newborn wolf
as its first breath of life.

We are ever reborn in new forms of life. Boy, you must pray for each form of life that you take… just as your grandfather prayed. The words of your prayer are words that we can hear.

We are each an expression of the earth. When you pray for my life you become Nanook. And Nanook becomes man.

Someday we shall meet in the world of ice. And when that happens, it does not matter whether it is I who shall die, or you.

and

Wouldn't it be worthwhile to put aside a little time each day – even just fifteen or thirty minutes – to forget your work and observe closely that flowers are blooming, the wind is blowing… After all, this isn't the kind of place you can come to anytime, and it would be a shame to let this experience go by unnoticed.

Over the last few years, I have found out more and more that being healthy in our mind is as important as the physical health. Your mind can make or break you physically without any mercy.

I really like what James Altucher talked about being healthy in 4 areas. (I will talk more about it in future posts on how I find it incredibly useful when applying in photography)

  1. Physically: sleep well, eat healthy, exercise daily,
  2. Emotionally: only surround yourself with positive people who lifts you up, not drags you down. Cut those who drains you, immediately and don't ever look back,
  3. Mentally: come up with new ideas every day, create something that you are happy with,
  4. Spiritually: Frankly I don't like this word. It is a word that's overused and abused. Many people have no clue what it really means but keep saying it to show that they are not shallow. What Altucher meant is just to be grateful.

I can relate what Altucher said on spiritual health to what Hoshino said: Slow down. Take a deep breath. And be grateful.

One year after the Arctic trip, I found myself  in Hallo Bay, Katmai, where I read a little book with Dr. Jane Godall's notes on it. I wrote down a few:

Without tears in your eyes there is no rainbow in your heart.

Don't give up when something goes wrong in your life. Work hard and you can overcome most obstacles.

The least I can do is speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves.

I become totally absorbed into this forest existence. It was an unparalleled period when aloneness was a way of life; a perfect opportunity, it might seem, for meditating in the meaning of existence and my role in it all.

All the time I was getting closer to animals and nature, and as a result, closer to myself and more and more in tune with the spiritual power that I felt all around.

A sense of calm came over me. More and more often I found myself thinking. This is where I belong. This is what I came Into this world to do.

I think one of the most exciting things is this feeling of mystery, feeling of awe, the feeling of looking at a little live thing and being amazed by it and how it's emerged through these hundreds of years of evolution and there it is and it is perfect and why.

Just few days before I saw these notes, I saw a mother brown bear who just lost one of her two cubs, in Lake Clark National Park, Alaska. I have asked the guides all over the place to find out what happened. Nobody knew. Some said the cub may be eaten by a wolf, or other adult male bears. Some said the cub didn't survive the harsh winter and died of starvation.

The mother bear was extremely protective of the only cub left. Rarely had I seen such a strong bonding. They snuggled and played with each other all the time. I talked to professional photographer Ron Niebrugge who was there few minutes before me. He told me the mama bear just did a somersault holding the cub earlier.

Then I remembered what Hoshino wrote about his grizzly bear family encounter in 1987.

The mama bear and cub stayed very close to us and away from the other adult bears nearby. The mother bear kept play-fighting with the cub to train him to become a warrior.

I was watching them, and a warm yet painful feeling filled my heart.

When the mama bear was further away, this remaining cub became shy and skittish. 600mm, f/8, 1/800s, ISO 800

When the mama bear was further away, this remaining cub became shy and skittish. 600mm, f/8, 1/800s, ISO 800

 

It seems that there's sorrow in mother bear's eyes. The cub was giving her a kiss. 600mm, 1.4x, f/8, 1/1250s, ISO 800

It seems that there's sorrow in mother bear's eyes. The cub was giving her a kiss. 600mm, 1.4x, f/8, 1/1250s, ISO 800

The mama bear looked so wise, as if listening to the story told by the cub.

The mama bear looked so wise, as if listening to the story told by the cub.

one_bear3_1200

 

onecub2

 

Mother bear was raising her snout so the cub couldn't reach her.

Mother bear was raising her snout so the cub couldn't reach her.

 

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Bear hug

Bear hug

 

At the last day we were blessed with some of the sweetest morning light ever, which was rare in the mostly overcast Alaska.

At the last day we were blessed with some of the sweetest morning light ever, which was rare in the mostly overcast Alaska.

 

We are each an expression of the earth. When you pray for my life you become Nanook. And Nanook becomes man.

Someday we shall meet in the world of ice. And when that happens, it does not matter whether it is I who shall die, or you.

 

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8 Comments

  1. janis on December 19, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    Tin Man, you know I love this series and love every word of the text. Get ready, next year it will be National Geographics!

  2. Steve Ferendo on December 19, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    Wonderful photos and blog.

  3. Reed Petak on December 19, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    Tin..Thank you!

  4. Ken C on December 19, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    Wow, I am amazed at how you find the time with work to do FB, blog and newsletter, impressive. In addition to being a great photographer, you also have the gift of writing. Awesome piece with some wonderful quotes. Great Histograms! Happy Holidays.

  5. Madeleine Lenagh on December 19, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    Can’t decide whether I like the words or the photographs better. Beautiful and inspiring, thank you!

  6. Carl Finkbeiner on December 19, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    You quote Jane Godall saying, “A sense of calm came over me. More and more often I found myself thinking. This is where I belong. This is what I came Into this world to do,” but it fits you well in your pictures and in your words.

  7. Ratna Narayan on December 19, 2014 at 11:56 pm

    what a beautiful Blog post Tinny! you just get better and better!

  8. Lisa Holton on December 20, 2014 at 11:38 am

    Just able to read this now and am almost speechless it is so moving, touching, insightful, beautiful … Simply love it. Thank you.

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