I remember the same time last year when I was writing about the year Twothousandandknut. It was so easy, it was such a joy to look back and remember everything. This year the task is much more difficult because of the sad news we received in September. I'll give it a try anyway - some personal reflections of the year 2008:
When the new year began we could enjoy pictures of our Knuti playing with his Christmas trees. He got them after the Christmas but he didn't mind - it was so fun to play with these sticky thingies!
The highlights of my year 2008 were the three visits to Bärlin. The first one we made just before the Eastern.
Knuti was of course, as lovely as ever, and it was a happy reunion with not only our beautiful bear but with many other Knutians. Our Berliner friends - Dumba, Gudrun, Nene, SpreewaldMarion, BarbaraBerlin among many others - took good care of me and Vesa showing us around in the zoo and telling us all the news about Knuti.
During this visit I also met a very special person, Teddybärenmutti, for the first time. I asked her if she could write a little report for Knutitours and she said she would try. Well, we all know now what happened after that. I want to thank 'Mutti' for wonderful co-operation! It's been (and hopefully will be) such a great pleasure to make our stories together. Without Knuti we probably had never met - let alone started writing little stories and making illustrations to them. Thank you, dear Knuti, for all the inspiration you give us!
Seeing our Dream Team together by the feedings was something I will never forget! Sometimes a little battle about 'who's the boss' but mostly a wonderful teamwork.
Knuti's little speciality was to change his appearance from a little bear to a giant, dangerous bear. I must confess I found both very cute...sorry, Knuti...
Thomas Dörflein was as kind as ever and let us take photos and answered all possible questions. He must have been quite tired to answer the same questions over and over again but he never showed it! He had the ability to make everybody feel very special. Maybe that's what made HIM so special!
Always surrounded by zoo visitors. By the feeding time it was sometimes difficult for TD to make his way to the 'feeding spot'.
The second time we visited Bärlin was in the autumn. Many Knutians had gathered at the zoo on the 5th of September - on Knuti's 21 month birthday. We had a great time at the zoo and later in the evening in the Kneipe that's been model for Knutitours' Knuipe. Viktor also introduced some technical 'thing' that made it possible for us to be in contact with bloggers who couldn't come to Bärlin.
Every time I've visited Knuti my first sight has been a sleeping kneauty. What a cute sight he is lying on his sand bed holding his paws so beautifully! And what a joy it is when he lifts his head, waves with his paws just like he wanted to say 'Hi there, welcome to my world'.
Knuti has started his 'waiting for the beef marathon' .....
...but first Daddy had to prepare the dinner for Family Ernst - Knuti's neighbours
Thomas Dörflein took care of Knuti's feeding both days we were at the zoo and together the Dream Team gave us some beautiful moments. Who could have imagined this was the last time we could see them together. How I wish I could have frozen the time....
Accidentally Vesa made a short and shaky video of this feeding but in spite of it's poor quality this video is a treasure for us!
After just two weeks -when we were still remembering the happy days in Berlin and planning a new trip in December - the Black Monday came with the terrible, sad news: Thomas Dörflein was dead. It still hurts to write those words. I couldn't believe it, I still can't believe it....
The merry Knutian family was chocked and hasn't got over the great chock yet. We were crying and mourning together. We were seeking comfort and consolation together. I don't think we've ever stayed as united as we stayed after this tragedy.
Thank you, Thomas Dörflein, for giving us Knuti! Thank you for making us believe in goodness again! You will never be forgotten! In our hearts the Dream Team will always be together.
All the Knutians were worried about how Knuti would cope with the new situation but our boy showed to be a strong bear who was comforting us when we were feeling sad and miserable.
It was Knuti who helped us to go on - with some very good help from his wonderful keepers Ronny Henkel, Marcus Röbke and Sylvia Weckert! I'm sure the whole Knutian world is very grateful for all their efforts to make our bear boy continue to be a happy bear.
You may laugh at me when I say that Knuti was worried seeing the sad faces in front of his enclosure and decided to do something about it. He invented a new game - he throws his ball to the visitors and one of them throws it back to him. The success was guaranteed! Unfortunately I've never seen this ballgame live but that gives med a good reason to visit Berlin again!
Yes, we were all mourning but we were also seeing a light coming in December - Knuti's second birthday! One after another we decided to travel to Bärlin and make our boy's special day a day to remember. At the same time it was time for many of us to say final goodbye to Thomas Dörflein.
Knuti seemed to have fun looking at all those people, the journalists, the knutographers...
Of course, the birthday child received lots of fine presents!
After the party at the zoo it was time for the party at Joe's Wirthaus for the Knuti fans. I want to thank once again Gudrun and Manfred for making this evening such a marvellous event! I'm sure none of us will ever forget that magic evening!
I want to thank all the fantastic, beautiful Knutians for the year 2008. It's been a year of happiness and sorrow. Many of you has lost your relatives, your pets....A dear friend of mine, Eva Gregory, lost everything she owned in a hurricane...In many ways it hasn't been a good year but helping each other within the Knutian community we have all managed to go on with our lives. It's so good to have you, guys, to share the happy moments but also the sad moments when the world seems to have stopped.
My special thanks to all the knutographers who so generously let me 'borrow' their pictures for my illustrations. Giant thanks to Doro II, Josefine, Elke Frank and Kitty for helping me with translations from English to German! I mustn't forget Viktor who with his technical skills makes it possible for us to celebrate together - no matter if some of us are in USA, Canada, Brazil or any other other country! Last but not least I want to thank Teddybärenmutti for her wonderful stories!
A new year is about to begin and again we can see our Knuti playing with his Christmas tree. May this year be happier than the last year for all of us!
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO KNUTI, THE BÄRENTEAM AND ALL THE KNUTIANS IN THE WHOLE WORLD!
Mervi, Vesa & Miffe
Photos: Vesa, Viktor, Jesse, SpreewaldMarion