Now Bear With Me...

Someone asked me my sign the other night. (This still happens in Eugene.) I said "Off Center Ceramics, Whimsical and Functional Stoneware Pottery. You've seen it, there's a bear on it."

I admit I was being difficult, but I still don't see why my favorite animal didn't get a place in the zodiac, Greek or Chinese. Though come to think of it, he's actually right in the center of things: the little bear with his tail on the Pole Star. Visible the year round, appropriate in any season.

Like those classical astrologers, I don't have only one bear on my pots. Ursa Minor is probably the fishing black bear, based on a National Geographic photo of black bears catching salmon in the Tongass National Forest. My version appears on coffee mugs, soup bowls, stew mugs, dessert and pie plates, and occasionally covered casseroles and square bakers, even pitchers.

Ursa Major can actually be any of a number of possibilities: grizzlies salmon-fishing on a cookie jar, a shy bear cub in a birch tree on tall mugs and serving bowls, a curious bear investigating a honey tree (or hive box) on honey jars. There are a lot of possibilities, and I keeping playing with them, trying new variations.

After all, who doesn't like playing with bears?