Sunday, April 15, 2012

Hibernation: My Mother was a Performing Bear?

My mother has always claimed that in a previous life she was a Russian Performing Bear.  As a child and young adult I found the idea amusing and rather magical even though her life, as you can well imagine, apparently wasn't all honey snacks and pretty tutus. I have the lingering impression that she hadn't necessarily gotten along with her "management", so to speak.

Becker's Bears by Marthe and Juliette Vesque (circa 1914)

As I grow older, I sometimes think about this bear connection and gradually the idea has evolved into something not quite so fanciful.  Not that my mother has gotten more bear-like over the years (though she has adopted a wide variety of teddies who needed a good home) but I have!  Particularly during the winter months when the days are shorter and darker, the urge to hibernate kicks in with a vengeance.  

Sure, the medical profession has come up with fancy explanations such as Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) but even that could be interpreted as lending credence to her theory and I quote:
In many species, activity is diminished during the winter months in response to the reduction in available food and the difficulties of surviving in cold weather. Hibernation is an extreme example, but even species that do not hibernate often exhibit changes in behavior during the winter. It has been argued that SAD is an evolved adaptation in humans that is a variant or remnant of a hibernation response in some remote ancestor.[23] Presumably, food was scarce during most of human prehistory, and a tendency toward low mood during the winter months would have been adaptive by reducing the need for calorie intake. 
No wonder I just want to stay in bed only getting up for a good meal of perogies & cabbage rolls!  I wonder how many of my relatives feel the same way; blessed & burdened as we are by genetics that conserve energy during the long winter months helping us to survive until spring arrives?

Fortunately, spring came early to my part of the world this year and so I'm up and running again.  In celebration, I've dusted off this blog with a new look and good intentions on more frequent contributions.

In closing, I'll leave you with a bit of Russian Folklore to ponder, especially those of us who are descended from Mikhail Dokuchic.  A coincidence you say?
The Russian word that is the equivalent of "teddy bear," "misha," is also the diminutive for the name Mikhail, which is the standard "first name" of folk-tale bears. 

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