Daily Post: Calling

Winter is calling!

By Johna Till Johnson
Photo by Vladimir Brezina

Today’s daily post is Calling.

Tomorrow is winter solstice. Days will begin to get longer, and it’s a good time to  reflect about the year gone by as we’re about to bid it farewell.

For today’s post, I decided to look for one of the many photos Vlad took of an animal with its mouth open. When I came across this one I immediately realized it had the right seasonal “feel” (even though Gus the polar bear is actually yawning.)

But the story itself calls to me, or rather the story-within-a-story: About six years ago Vlad and I went to the Central Park Zoo, along with my best friend and two of her daughters. Vlad brought the good camera and took some memorable photos. We remarked at the time what “characters” these animals were—quintessential New Yorkers!

Vlad also wrote a later blog post just about Gus, the polar bear. Apparently, like all true New Yorkers, Gus was neurotic: For no reason that anyone could understand, he took up obsessively swimming laps in the pool.

For 12 hours a day.

The zookeepers got him therapy, and eventually his symptoms tapered off (though they never disappeared entirely). He died in the summer of 2013 and was greatly mourned.

A part of old New York passed away back then, and has never been replaced. There are no longer polar bears at the Central Park Zoo, which many would say is a good thing for them, if not us.

And of course, Vlad is now gone too, and with him another small part of old New York.

So really, it’s the past that calls to me in this image.

A past of sunny spring days full of vanished polar bears and other animal “characters” vamping for the camera, and of the careful, enthusiastic eye that took the photos. A past filled with unexpected discoveries and pleasant surprises.

As Vlad himself put it in the comments, “In happier times, as they say in biographies that end badly (as they all do)…”

Later on Vlad writes, “Sorry to have lost him.”


8 responses to “Daily Post: Calling

  1. A very affecting post, Johna. Well put all round.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What a lovely memory of the lovely-sounding Vlad, and the bear Gus. Thank you for sharing this today, it cheered me up as I’ve been playing old songs and feeling a bit sad at the passing of time – and the people they remind me of.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Johna Till Johnson

      Thank you, and thanks for commenting. Vlad was indeed lovely.

      I think the sad thing about the passing of time is the bone-deep realization of impermanence. The good thing is how many people the songs (and other things) remind you of. Realizing how many people you’ve loved and have loved you (as friends, family, or otherwise) makes life feel very full, even if so much of it is in the past…


  3. A photo with a great story and great memories attached. It does not get better than that.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I miss Vlad too. Even though I only knew him as a blogger, he had resonance in my world.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Johna Till Johnson

      Marilyn, I am quite sure he’d be delighted to know that. He took such pride in our blog… I can remember as if it were yesterday when I said to him, “We should start a blog!”

      From then on, he fussed over every detail. Everything from the layout to the photos to the writing…and whenever he got a comment he was so excited! Every single time.

      I think it would have meant quite a lot that it had resonance to you.


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