Christmas tree ornament
A bear wearing a scarf holds onto a wheeled-cart that contains at least one gift. Behind the gift is a red frame with a black interior. The purpose of the red frame is unclear, but its color matches that of the cart’s body, suggesting that both the red frame and the cart’s body were made by the same manufacturer. Perhaps it is a roll bar, but that is simply speculation, as the bear is grasping onto the outside of the cart, rather than riding inside the cart, thus negating any benefit the vehicle’s safety feature may provide. Attached to the roll bar is a green loop of fiber. This loop is obviously a utilitarian feature meant for hanging the ornament on the branch of a tree, and is thus unlikely to yield any representational significance, though it has been noted.
Moving on, the bear’s scarf is green, matching the top and bottom structural components of the cart. Here we realize that there are two choices: either the bear selected this scarf, or someone else selected this scarf for the bear to wear. Perhaps the bear chose this scarf, and it only coincidentally matches the cart components. Or perhaps the bear has become so accustomed to the color of the cart that he began to enjoy the tone of that particular green. If this is the case, then we may assume that the bear has moved many such carts, or at the very least, that this is not his first. Considering the bear’s experience moving carts, we are then led to wonder why this is so. Does the bear simply enjoy pushing carts, hanging on for dear life without the protection of a rollbar? While the bear’s smile suggests that this could be the case, there are alternative explanations, such as that the bear may be employed as a cart-pusher. This alternative wraps up some loose-ends so far considered, at once explaining the bear’s work experience, while also suggesting that the scarf may be a work uniform demanded by his employer. Who is his employer? We can never know, as the cart is free of identifiers, and the bear is not talking.
Though we cannot know which Antarctic agency the bear works for, there are clues to the bear’s agenda. The most obvious clue is the yellow placard on the cart’s side that reads, “South Pole”. This leaves two likely possibilities: the cart is either going to, or returning from, the South Pole. It is here that we must halt briefly to consider current events, namely the “South Pole highway” that is presently being constructed, in which crevasses in the ice shelf and on glaciers are being filled with snow so that supplies may be delivered overland to South Pole Station, which will be far more economical than the current situation, where all supplies are delivered by aircraft. This project is called the South Pole Traverse project, and it is one of the most ambitious projects in recent Antarctic history. Now then, returning to the South Pole Christmas Bear, we are relieved to consider that the bear and his load are navigating the new South Pole Traverse route. To do otherwise would be unnecessarily risky, and the bear would most likely end up wedged in a colossal crevasse, his body to be retrieved with meathooks the following summer. Also, his cargo would be lost, and the expenses already incurred in sending the bear on such a traverse would be lost, not yet even considering the costs of the Search and Rescue mission to dredge up the bear’s frosted corpse. All in all, it is better if we assume that Teddy is indeed sticking to the new South Pole Traverse route.
Let’s look at Teddy’s traverse vehicle. The cart seems solid enough, and the bear, if he is as experienced as we have hoped, seems supremely confident in its reliability.
That’s good, because the shortest route to Pole is still over 800 miles of goddawful empty death drowned in ice and sealed with snow, and spare parts don’t ride their own wagontrain. As we can see, the cart is not a tracked-vehicle as one would expect to find on the traditional Antarctic traverse.
Rather it utilizes an unfamiliar “blue-tire technology” in which traction on ice and snow is provided by enormous sequins. Since NSF and its corporate contractor are planning a South Pole traverse very soon, they would undoubtedly like to see how this new technology stands up in the field, so that the USAP may upgrade its own traverse equipment.
Now that we are familiar with Teddy and his route, we may turn our attention to the gift in the cart. Obviously we do not know the contents of the gift, but if it is either going to, or returning from the South Pole, we may narrow it down. Though many things are delivered there, the only two things that ever return from South Pole are people and trash. The bear’s cheerful countenance seems to suggest that the “gift” does not contain either a corpse or a living hostage, but on the other hand we do not really know much about the bear since his employment background-check is nowhere apparent, and besides, the bear may be only doing his job, neither knowing nor caring what is in the package. Assuming the bear’s cargo is not underhanded or illegal, we may then deduce, if the cart is returning from Pole, that the gift contains either solid waste, hazardous waste, or unnecessary equipment to be sold at auction in Port Hueneme, California.
But if the bear is on a traverse to the South Pole, we find an entirely different story. The gift could contain anything from bars of soap, to construction steel, to beer, to gift shop postcards! Let’s see if we can narrow it down any further. We recently assumed that the bear was just doing his job, and keeping his head down regarding the contents of the package. But perhaps the bear’s smile tells a different story than the mandatory positive attitude spelled out in his contract.
Perhaps the bear is delivering Pole’s inventory of controlled pharmaceuticals. In fact, considering the loose prerequisites for the position, the bear may very well be the new South Pole doctor, showing up to work in only a scarf and blazed on prescription muscle relaxants. Unfortunately, there is just no way to tell, and we are left with the statistical likelihood that the wrapped gift is a shipment of fuel, that the bear’s scarf smells like diesel, and that when Teddy reaches Pole he will get loaded on scotch and pass out in the smoking lounge.