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Always on Board

The Cushion Cuddly Bear

  • Birgit Lutz
  • December 9, 2019

North Pole, Antarctica or Greenland crossing: Our author always takes 217 grams of extra-soft extra weight with her expeditions - that's the weight of her cuddly polar bear

Penny is 12 years old now. For a polar bear in the wild, this would be a great age, she would have survived the dangerous young years and would be wandering strong and wild and free through the vastness of the polar world. Penny is a plush bear, though. And as such, she unexpectedly got a pretty tough job. Penny came to me because my mother wanted to give me something when I was allowed to travel to the North Pole for a research trip. What could be more fitting than a polar bear? And of course, I took Penny with me on the trip. She flew with me to Moscow and on to Murmansk, went with me on the icebreaker, which should bring us to the northernmost point of the world. On the way I let her look out of the window, her brothers and sisters were walking around out there, maybe. So during the day Penny sat at the porthole, at night she lay with me in my bunk. The chambermaids built icebergs on my bed from towels and draped Penny on top. That was the time when Penny didn't have much to do and was greeted enthusiastically by everyone.

66 times Penny has traveled with me to the Arctic, 15 of those to the North Pole

But at the North Pole I fell in love with the ice and the light and the whole expedition life that opened up there for me. And I began to march on skis into the Arctic, as far as the North Pole. And although you count every gram on such tours, I always have 217 grams extra. That's how much Penny weighs. In the tent, Penny's task description suddenly changed from cuddly to cushion bear. Her little soft body fits right into my neck cavity; Penny makes sleeping on ice more comfortable. She has thus gone from funny luxury to an indispensable team partner that I will never forget. On my Greenland crossing Penny also became a comforting bear when I cried into her fluffy fur every evening on the middle 200 of a total of 600 kilometers, because the way simply didn't want to end.

Penny has now traveled 66 times with me to the Arctic, 15 of them to the North Pole. Unlike all other polar bears, Penny has been to Antarctica seven times, where she frightened all the penguins. She patiently takes part in all this, can be pressed into suitcases or sledges again and again, and when she comes out she is as soft and fluffy as ever.

The only thing she doesn't like at all is that she sometimes has to do a few turns in the washing machine. When I then hang her on the leash, I imagine every time that she looks at me with such a reproachful look as only insulted cats can do. She'll still be there for the next tour.