When I think of iconic images in our valley, the Sutter Buttes, the Sacramento River and our abundant wildlife quickly come to mind.
The observant traveler along Highway 20 from Yuba City to Colusa has probably seen another one of my favorites – our valley’s famous polar bear.
Among the orchards, fields and ranches in Meridian lies Love, the well-dressed polar bear sculpture that has delighted many over the years.
After seeing this bear countless times in recent years, I was excited to learn its story from owner, Debrah Tarke Reid.
“His name is Love, because he brings joy to people,” Debrah said. “Hopefully when people see him, he will take people out of their daily worries and give them a happy thought for 10 seconds.”
Love was purchased in 1984, following an Alaska trip for the family, after they became enchanted following a small plane flight over a family of polar bears. For many years, it was located closer to the ranch, supporting a living Christmas tree and even needed some heavy repair after its neck was snapped by farm equipment
Fortunately, Love was moved to his now familiar spot along the Highway in 2015. Since then, he has worn more than 30 outfits, no pre-fab costumes, instead all originally-designed by Debrah – providing endless delight for her grandsons!
Over the years, Love the polar bear has been Batman, Santa, Cupid (briefly before strong winds took their toll) and adorned with flowers to signal the start of spring.
A favorite of Debrah’s is the farmer costume; a tribute to her hardworking farm background.
As she put it, “I’m grateful for the life my dad gave me.”
I put in a lot of miles in our beautiful valley. Seeing Love in a new outfit provides me a respite. Peace amidst the chaos.