It all started with a calendar. I was looking for a calendar that had large squares on it so I could write our work schedules and our grandchildren’s schedules so I could be where I was supposed to be and on time. The biggest calendar was about polar bears, so I bought it for the squares. For the next four years I bought polar bear calendars.
Every month the calendars would have an interesting fact and I would say, “Did you know this about polar bears?”
Because I was talking about polar bears so much, my oldest son bought tickets to go see the bears. My husband, Brett, wasn’t interested in going to northern Manitoba. At first, I thought of returning the ticket, but I knew that the ticket was given to me out of love. So, I went. I had never travelled by myself.
I was a little nervous and anxious the day of the trip on the Churchill Airlines plane. Our host ended up being the person who took the pictures of all the polar bears on the calendars that I had bought. We arrived in Churchill, Manitoba and were directed to a school bus waiting for us, the only way to get to the town of Churchill.
The bus was full and all of us were busy looking out the windows. Other than bush we did see a cement building and the driver stated that it was the “Polar Bear Jail.” If a polar bear is causing problems, he is put in “jail” where a vet can look at it and see if there is something medically wrong or if it needs to be away from people for a time-out.
Churchill is a very small place, and we continued our journey to the Tundra Buggy. As we went along, I noticed a line of shiny, black rocks. I thought to myself, “I have seen this before.” Then I remembered that in school, I had to write a report on the Canadian Shield.
Then we arrived at the Hudson Bay. The spot was once a thriving historical site but was now empty and deserted. But the Tundra Buddies were waiting for us to take us to the bears.
At this point I realised that my trip had greater than expected significance to me. I was fulfilling a dream born from fascination, but I wasn’t just seeing the polar bears. I was seeing Canada, and what God had created for me.
I was witnessing the uniqueness of Creation. My love for the Creator and for my country was growing. I was seeing first-hand the link between learning about something (knowledge) and spiritual awe and gratitude. Plus, I was feeling brave, a quality I didn’t know that I would need so much as my life unfolded.
We boarded the buggies, which are quite high off the ground. The driver was from Newfoundland and divided his time between polar bear guiding, white-water rafting in Banff, and lobster fishing. “Living the dream,” he said.
We were told the rules. If you go out on the back deck, DO NOT DROP ANYTHING ON THE GROUND. If you drop anything, please let the driver know and he will retrieve it. We were in polar bear land and there are rules in nature. One couple did go out, dropped sunglasses, and didn’t tell the guide. He was not polite about reminding them of the rule, and he was right.
The host told us that we could be lucky and get a polar bear kiss. The kiss is when a polar bear walks up to the buggy and looks inside to see the people. Well guess what, a polar bear walked right beside the buggy. No kisses for us, but what a treat for us to be that close to a big white bear. I was surprised at the number of bears there were.
Near the end of the day the driver just stopped, and I was thinking, “Why are we looking at this rock?” Soon the rock lifted up on a leg and showed us just how big his paws were. Wow, how easy was it to fool me. Then we started our trip back.
What did I learn from my day trip?
I can be by myself and have a great time.
I loved having a wonderful day of learning.
I learned to listen and respect what you are being told to do.
I learned that the Lord loves His creations, and that the Lord shows His love for us by creating such wonders to enjoy and learn about.
For example, did you know:
Polar bears do what is called still-hunting meaning that they can wait by a seal beathing hole for several hours and then with their claws drag the seal out of the hole. They also have a very keen sense of smell, and it is by smell that they know when a seal is nearby.
And polar bears have black skins which soak up the sunlight and keep the heat next to them. The only black you see are the eyes and the nose. Some old hunters say that the bear will cover his nose so the seal cannot see it.
One way to thank our Creator is by learning about His creations.
“And God saw every thing that he had made,
and, behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31)