Chasing Down The Muse: Bearing up to spring

“A bear’s days are warmed by the same sun, his dwellings are overdomed by the same blue sky, and his life turns and ebbs with heart pulsings like ours….”

— John Muir

I could be a bear.

As I walked Bear Creek Trail on our recent Montana vacation, the thought that I could be a bear came to mind. For some reason, I could not seem to shake it.


A bear is a mammal. I am a mammal. A bear is omnivorous, eating more plants than animals. I am definitely that, as I lean toward grains and vegetables in my own diet. A bear has short, stocky legs and shaggy hair. My legs are definitely not long and lean, and the shaggy hair? Well, most of the time it probably is a bit rough around the edges … shaggy.

Bears are primarily diurnal, though at times more active at twilight or even nocturnal. My best times are day times, though I love twilight and have been known to be active at night as well. Bears use a variety of sounds such as moaning, barking, huffing, growling and even roaring to exhibit a range of emotions. There are many who will attest that I do the same.

A bear is typically solitary — something I can relate to as I spend a good deal of my time alone. I thoroughly enjoy a walk with a friend, but find I am more attuned to nature when I go alone. Creativity is another area where I spend much of my time in solitude, unless teaching, and prefer it that way. Not asocial as the bear is, I still get a longing for solitude.

But where the similarities really come to bear (forgive the pun) some fruit is in the proverbial bear’s penchant to hibernate in winter time. This is where I sometimes think I could be a bear (with modifications, of course).


When it is cold, I love to curl up and sleep, often even taking naps in the afternoon. Now if the sun is out and making everything twinkle, this is more difficult. The sunshine really seems to fire up my motor. Again, this is where the shorter, darker days of winter bring out the bear in me.

And if I were to hibernate, then maybe I would not be so antsy for spring. Perhaps I could be more content in those short-day, cold and dreary-day times. If I were asleep, I might not get excited by those first signs of spring, like increased birdsong and small green shoots or pink buds of flowers. Then, there would be no disappointment at the many false starts of springtime.

But does the bear dream? For my winter’s dreams are many. I have to have my dreams. That is one of the best things in winter. All snuggled in bed in the early morning, having returned to slumber when it was too cold to rise, the proliferation of dreams of creative possibilities are wondrous, to say the least. Myriad colors and forms take shape in these dawn hours. If I were a bear, dreams would still be a necessary part of my winter time.

Perhaps I could be a bear. But I am not one. While winter has been a slower time of reading and learning and dreaming, it is now time to put into action some of the possibilities that arose. It is time for the seedlings that were those dreams to sprout. There are things I could learn from the bear that would keep me humble, I am sure. For now, though, while my sense of smell could never be as keen as that of a bear, I do smell spring … and the summer to follow. I had better get busy … like the bee that makes the honey the bear so loves.

And so I am off to my studio to put dreams to work. The songs of the dove and the mockingbird spur me on as the fog lifts and the day warms. I am not a bear and I cannot wait for spring to be in full bloom before starting.

CHERRIL DOTY is a human being. She can be reached at (714) 745-9973 or by e-mail at