POLAR BEARS IN WNC                                                                                                                  Andy Hollifield 12-12-18

It’s true! Polar bears have been spotted around WNC. They have roamed the streets, valleys, and mountains all week in a mass migration. They have moved in here from various parts of the country. According to Wikipedia, they have adapted their bodies to snow and ice sometimes traveling miles in a day on land. Terrain does not seem to hinder them since they are expert climbers and their feet are adapted to all kinds of surfaces; wet, slippery, snow, ice, rocky, and they have been known to go right through thick brush and even move it out of their way. They are also known to be docile to humans unless provoked. They simply spend their days and nights in cold weather, roaming the snow and ice. They eat only when they dare to stop long enough to find something but will eat pretty much anything. Hibernation doesn’t always come in warmer months like some may believe. They have even been known to spend several days and nights roaming the ice even after not getting rest in the summer. The sheer bulk of their coats make them not as susceptible to cold as one might think.

Some of these characteristics may not seem familiar to some but they are accurate. You have probably been taught that Polar Bears hibernate all summer but actually they have been seen frequently in mass at the sites of severe weather events in both summer and winter. Oh no, don’t be confused. These are not the arctic Polar Bears I am talking about. These are a special breed that adapts to whatever climate they find themselves in. They have even been known to be weeks at a time away from family working to bring sustenance back to their young and their mate. These even spend most of their time on two legs except when traversing thick undergrowth in dense forest.

There creatures that constantly roam the frozen tundra and are seen at devastating disasters are none other than our electrical linemen. The linemen at my power company, Haywood EMC, and other companies as well, work hours on end with little or no sleep just so that the rest of us can sleep in comfort summer or winter. They spend time away from their families, often leaving them to fiend for themselves while they take care of complete strangers that they will likely never meet and seldom hear a “thank you” from. They are the ones that answer the call in time of need and saddle up and go, sometimes not knowing where or when they will return.

I hope this little post somehow conveys my gratitude to those that are doing a job that most of us wouldn’t want and would be afraid of even under the best of conditions. I did have the opportunity to actually step outside and tell these men that I appreciated them for the work they were doing. When my power came on early Tuesday afternoon, it was the end of a three-day ordeal that was for the most part only inconvenient. We were warm and had food and water and a roof over our head which is more than these men could say for the last few days. I just wanted to write this especially as a tribute to them.

There are others such as plow operators clearing the roads and emergency personnel available at a moments notice no matter what the weather. All of these play a vital role in our lives in a major weather event. But the truth is that if you aren’t traveling, the road conditions don’t matter to you. Also, if you don’t have an emergency, the availability of emergency personnel doesn’t concern you. But when everything else is good in your little corner of the world, and the lights go out and the heat goes off, we all need the linemen. Thanks to all of the men that roam the frozen tundra of WNC. May God bless each of you and keep you safe. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

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