National Bear Hunt and Other Community Treasures

Have you spotted any teddy bears on your keep-a-safe-distance walks?

Blueberry the Bear

I first heard about the #NationalBearHunt from a friend on Facebook. Carrie has a toddler at home whereas my boys are now 19 and 22. Without her post, I may have missed it. I’m trying to limit my news consumption.

The bear hunts are inspired by British author Michael Rosen’s children’s book “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt”. Rosen’s 1989 book has never been out of print! I hope he knows what an inspiration he’s been to parents and children everywhere.

We have one teddy bear in residence, the newly named Blueberry. My son didn’t name the bear when I made it for him out of soft fleece about a decade ago. At the time my son was more interested in the making of the bear then he was in having it. I made three bears during that time, but the other two went to a new home.

A startled Mouse the Cat discoveries Blueberry in the window

Blueberry is in the front window, visible from the curb and in view of our Little Free Library. I’ve left a small sign inviting folks to wave as they walk by.

A make-shift sign, Mouse the Cat, and Blueberry the Teddy Bear

It’s these small gestures that help keep us sane.

Here are a few others:

Anne Lawson in Australia posted this on her Instagram feed annelawson54:

“Another way to build community connections….a gallery in my own front yard. All exhibitors have to do is leave a drawing in my letterbox. Is this something you could do? (Until it rains, of course. Then I will have to be more inventive 😊)”

Jacinda Arden has a teddybear in her window in New Zealand as she shelters in place. The Guardian reports:

“the real-life Kiwi bear hunt has seen homes from Bluff to Auckland place teddy bears in their street-facing windows, allowing local children to “hunt” for bears in their neighbourhoods. The prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, confirmed she too had placed a teddy in the front window of Premier House in Wellington, where she is in lockdown with her fiancé, Clarke Gayford, and toddler, Neve.”

Little Free Libraries converted to food pantries, pre-packaged, sterilized books, a joke a day and more.

“Community engagement and sharing with others are at the heart of the Little Free Library movement. In just a few days, the spirit of sharing in Little Free Libraries has shifted to accommodate different and increased needs in communities all over the world.

By now you may have already seen stories and photos of stewards in cities near and far transforming their book-exchange boxes into “little free pantries,” offering items like canned goods, toilet paper, sanitizing products, and more while COVID-19 has changed day-to-day life drastically for everyone.

While some stewards have opted to close their little libraries completely to limit potential exposure to frequently-touched surfaces, others are swapping out books for household essentials to help out neighbors in need. And a number of stewards are offering both books and pantry items!”

Our LFL is a beloved community resource. Closing it down seems unthinkable, but keeping every book sanitized is impossible. I could sanitize the doorknobs, books, and shelves, only to have to start over after one visitor. Since visitors continue to stop by, I’ve taken all the back-stock of children’s books from our garage and placed them in an open bin.

Back-stock of children’s books in my garage

Adjunct bin of LFL children’s books

My hope is that books will be sanitized by the user. If the books remain untouched, they at least offer hope for the future.

What are you seeing in your community?

41 thoughts on “National Bear Hunt and Other Community Treasures

  1. Now I want to know how Blueberry did get his name……… We have bears everywhere here, I look out for them on my morning walk. I don’t have any bears any more, but Siddy does. I spent a half hour finding an array of bears and other soft toys he doesn’t play with any more and lined them up in the front window. Siddy was right behind me retrieving them and placing them on the floor by his toy box ……. so much for sharing the joy!!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Lovely bear, Alys. Here the children are drawing or paintings rainbows to put in the windows.

    I think it is a good idea to keep your little library open. People will no doubt take comfort in its presence and yes, they can sanitise their books if they feel it is appropriate. Hope for the future!

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    • Thank you, Helen. I like the idea of drawings and paintings. It gives children a creative outlet and something to do.

      Our library remains open and continues to get visitors and to lift spirits.

      I hope for the future, indeed. I hope you are both doing well.

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      • Thank you, Alys. We have been for an uplifting walk today and seen some beautiful painted rainbows in house windows round about. I’m glad that your library has been getting visitors – it would nice if we had something like this here.

        I hope that you and your family and neighbours are all well.

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        • Helen, your walk sounds lovely. I’m happy to hear about all those rainbows as well. We are all doing well, and trying to keep busy. I managed a 15 minute walk with Mike this afternoon, but that’s about all I can manage for now. We’re enjoying a nice rain today, too.

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  3. Great ideas! With our public library closed, I’m thinking I might visit one of the couple library boxes I’ve seen around town. Or I suppose I could dust off and revisit my own favorites. I miss our library, and appreciate it now more than ever before.

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    • Eliza, I was really disheartened when the libraries closed. Of course, it makes sense, but it’s still one of the few places people can go and get a treasure trove of books, music, information and other resources in a cozy and inviting environment.

      If you you to the Little Free Library website, they have a world map with locations. You may even discover a few you didn’t know were out there.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve not been walking much off the property and I have no window facing the street, but I understand that locally (here New Zealand) there are bears to be seen.

    On that note about Jacinda Ardern bear – I’m not in Wellington where Premier House is…we see Jacinda twice daily if we wish via facebook on updates. In the afternoon she has the journalist/reporters – some them I just want to “smack” they keep fill up the question time with really stupid questions and when she bravely smiles and answers they come back with something like “but what if…” if I only i could smack them down!
    We also see the Director General for Health: Ashley Bloomfield – and he’s just as great as Jacinda, the guy is calm and smooth in his reports … it must be one hellva of a job right now to be this type of spokesperson.

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  5. The LFL movement isn’t common yet in our small rural community, and I haven’t seen any bears. But a local Indian restaurant which feeds the homeless for free each Christmas is now feeding those who’ve lost their jobs. They only have to ask…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have a dog with the art gallery in my front yard. (Thanks for the mention in your post.) He was given to us by grandchildren, who obviously thought our lives were lacking a stuffed toy! Now he is smiling at everyone going by.
    Our Little Free Library and Pantry have had to close. It was sad, but I understand the concerns. I love that yours is such a treasured part of the community.
    And I loved Pauline’s comment about Siddy reclaiming his forgotten toys!
    Stay well. xox

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Such a heart-warming idea Alys. We live away from it all, so I must say I only notice something is different when I go to the shops and get shouted at to keep my distance! Some people seem to smile at each other more, in a kind of solidarity, while others are just scared and defensive and avoid eye contact. Can‘t wait for normality to return. Take care. xx

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    • It’s interesting to note the different reactions from people. We were all trying to keep our distance at the market yesterday and it was awkward. Some people seemed completely unaware, others kept a good distance and many of us wore masked. It’s so awkward. Take care, Cathy.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. What a lovely idea. Houses in our area are few and far between, often with long drives, so I haven’t noticed anything similar. We have, however, received a couple of greetings cards offering help should we need it.

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  9. Now that’s the kind of bear hunt I can get behind! Some Maine communities are doing this, too. We live on such a rural road that I’m not sure anyone would notice. However, I’m tempted to put my small bear collection on the buffet in the dining room where they can look out the the window. Really like Mouse’s cautious appraisal. Two younger folks have offered to pick up groceries for us. Another friend offered to get us some apples. To borrow from the Avett Brothers, along with the ugliness there is loveliness.

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  10. I’m another one living somewhere nobody would ever see a bear in my window which is a shame as I used to collect artist bears so have any number of them I could sit there. It’s lovely to see these community things happening to make people’s lives a bit cheerier at the moment – I’m fed up with reading about some of the bad stuff people do and i’m sure they’re in the minority anyway.

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    • Your place sounds idyllic. Maybe you can display a bear and surprise the postal worker?

      I like to believe the good outways the bad. It’s just that the bad so often makes the headlines. Hang in there.

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  11. I always learn something here. I haven’t seen bears in window nor heard of the event but it’s a cute idea. Inspector Mouse has an eye on Blueberry, he’s such a cutie 😀 I personally wouldn’t handle anything outside my home with my bare hands right now. I’ve worn plastic gloves to go out (I’ve only been out for groceries once in 13 days). I figure, why risk it. Covid 19 is gaining momentum and hasn’t even peaked yet in north america. We’re vigilant and clean every item brought from the store. Our shopping market has plexiglass up in front of the cashiers and lines on the floor to show you how close you can be in line to each other. It’s unsettling and other worldly really. But so important for the safety of our healthcare workers. OMgosh, New York is a nightmare. I can’t even imagine. Take good care, be safe!! xo K

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    • I read about the pleixglass in Canada. I think that’s a great idea. My nephew moved to New York last year and now he’s in deep quarantine at home. I have a friend from college living there, too. I’m sure glad we’re not there this year. Can you imagine? I’m glad you are keeping yourself safe. We have a lot of cases in Santa Clara County, but because we were two weeks ahead of the curve with sheltering in place, we are apparently flattening the curve. Of course the stats change daily and apparently we aren’t doing a good job with testing, so it’s all relative. Be safe. Big virtual hug.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Mike and I had a debate about this. It appears that some cases were underreported, showed a spike, then came back down. I now interpret that as an anomaly. Everyone is predicting a terrible week. We shopped yesterday and what a change in just a week. Many more people are wearing masks, the grocery store closed all but one door, bringing and using your own bags or containers is now prohibited and they are only letting in a set amount at a time. When we arrived we walked right in, but as we left, people were outside awaiting access. Each aisle now has a wait here sign and an x for you to wait your turn. We’re still seeing shortages of certain things, but all stores are now limiting to prevent hoarding of the essentials.

          I’m glad Jim is working from home and that you have so many fun things to keep you occupied. That helps.

          I miss my organizing work and I miss the women downtown. I worry about them every day.

          Liked by 1 person

  12. Looks like Mr. Mouse was checking out the new neighbor to see if he had any competition for attention. I almost completely missed this and am so glad I did not!!! There is a big bear in the front window of a house I walk by and wondered why. Now I am educated and my daughter helped to arrange a couple in my sewing room window and one in her bedroom window. Anything to bring a smile! I’ll be heading out shortly for my walk on this very cold morning to wave at my shut in neighbor and actually LOOK for more bears. Thanks for a big lift to my day. Giant squishy bear hugs. 😉

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  13. Pingback: National Bear Hunt? | insearchofitall

  14. I absolutely love that children’s book about going on a bear hunt and read it many many times to my children when they were little. And I love this idea of putting teddy bears in windows. So clever and delightful at the same time. Anything we can do collectively to raise spirits and creative positive energy is helpful. Given that I have been taking my teddy bear that I had from age 2 and I am now 63, across the globe for years, I do really appreciate this teddy bear idea. My own is barely recognisable as a teddy bear as she is so worn and old, but to me, she will always be my “Daisy” going around the world with me having comforted me at an early age and still continues to do so.

    Peta

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was always ready for the next age and stage with my boys, but one of the things I’ve missed the most was the hours that we read together. I’m close to your age (60) and they are now 19 and 22.

      I agree with you: lifting spirits is what it’s all about now.

      I love that you have your childhood bear. Apparently I lost mine in the snow. I don’t recall any of it, but my mother would recall the occassion. I’m sure I was distraught at the time. Alys

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  15. Such a lovely post filled with community connections, dear Alys! Each time I visit with a sweet friend, her young daughter chooses a favorite book for Auntie Dawn to read aloud. On my last visit, Zoë chose We’re Going on a Bear Hunt! I knew it was a timeless favorite because Zoë knew every word by heart! Although I haven’t noticed any bears on my neighborhood walks, I have seen lots of shamrocks, hearts, and rainbows in the windows. The sidewalks have become a gallery of brightly colored chalk art. Your Little Free Library is an extra special gift to your neighborhood while the public libraries are closed! Children become readers on the laps of their parents… now more than ever! Holding your heart in my heart, sweet friend! Stay well!
    Sending huge air hugs your way!💗

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    • Oh Dawn, that makes me tingle all over. I love that you get to read to Zoe and how fun that she chose that book.

      I’m seeing painted rocks throughout the neighborhood, along with chalk art and even a word search. People are so creative and generous.

      I loved reading to my boyys and I love your quote about children becoming readers on their parent’s laps. I also thought of books as my secret weapon for settling an upset child. I would just start reading and they would calm down and focus on my words. I can’t imagine a world without books. Library cards in my childhood were the free ticket to a world of fantasy, intrigue, mystery and time travel.

      I caught that hug and I’m returning it to you. Be well, Dawn. xo

      Liked by 1 person

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