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05/12/2006 - 8:28 a.m.

PIZZLY

Somewhere in Canada, hunters found a bear that is a cross between a grizzly bear and a polar bear. Although scientists have known for a while that polar bears and grizzlies can mate and produce fertile offspring, never before have they known of such a cross in the wild. When I read of this find yesterday morning, I turned to FogieKnight and said, “I have to write about that.” After almost eight hours on the road yesterday with rain and wind and after two hours of a client meeting, it was all I could do to write my own name last night. So, here it is first thing in the morning and I am thinking about bears. I suppose it is appropriate because, after all, one of my nicknames for FogieKnight is “Bear,” (although, as he notes, sometimes it is all too easy to tell whether he is “Yogi” and smarter than the average bear or “Pooh” and a bear of little brain.)

At the time, I thought I would write of race and brotherhood. I had lofty goals. I often have lofty goals. But often my life is more consumed with the little things and this is one of those times. As I sat down to write this entry, that Golar Bear or Pizzlie, whichever he was, brought other thoughts to mind. I suspect it was the tag line of the article which read, “few can explain how [the grizzly bear father] managed to get along with a polar bear long enough to mate.” You see, over 25 years ago when FogieKnight and I began dating, our law school classmates thought that we were a polar bear and a grizzly and wondered if we would get along long enough to mate.

It is hard for many who know us now to believe it, but our classmates thought the pairing downright odd. They thought we had little in common. First, there were the physical differences. He is quite tall, slender as though her were a long-distance runner (which he is not), with blue eyes and a ruddy complexion that reflects his largely English ancestry (even as his need for his little piece of land suggests his Czech heritage.) I am very short, dark, and curvy with a clearly ethnic look. Next, there were the differences of background. He is from rural Iowa, outside a small town in which the major group differences were between the Catholics and the Methodists. Me, I am a suburban Jew who attended schools in which both racial and religious issues were common. I grew up with diversity before we started calling it diversity. Our temperaments also differed. I appeared passionate and, at times, hot-headed. At the very least, I was very expressive about feelings. He was, or so it appeared, laid-back and even-keeled. Finally, our outlooks appeared different. He was a dreamer who seemed to believe in change. I was a pragmatist and realist to the core with deep personal conservatism who always worried about the unintended consequences of change.

But underneath it all, our values were and are amazingly similar. We believe in community and group responsibility. We believe in family and connection. We believe in making room for eccentrics because, in part, we recognize and protect our own kind. We believe in duty and caring. We believe in looking at differences straight on and resolving them whenever possible and disregarding them as “the little things” when resolution seems too unlikely and not really necessary. True, we battled our way through the law school years but almost all of those battles were about whether we should believe in ourselves together forever. Once that battle was settled, we married and fight only rarely since.

And so there are Kat and Day and we’re still together. Scientists may see great differences between the polar bear and the grizzly but they might be wrong. After all, FogieKnight has managed to get along with me long enough to mate—and then some.

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