I've lived in Montana long enough to know that bears are no joke. They are big, powerful, fast, and when you are in the presence of one of these there is no avoiding the knowledge that you are not the top of the food chain any more. Today I got to photograph five bears. Black bears. A momma and four cubs. All up a tree. As I walked around the base of the tree, circling to get the best shots the Momma bear kept giving me that look — the one that says, "You're on thin ice lady..."But for all the warnings I've heard, and all the stories I've been told, there is still a mental disconnect for me when it comes to bears. Well, two disconnects really. One — I have managed to deceive myself about bears. I tend to think if the bear is up the tree, that means I'm safe. Not so. The bears can get down. My so-called safety is nothing more than a pleasant illusion. And two — no matter how hard I try to take them seriously, try to think of them as predators capable of doing me harm and/or killing me, whenever I see a bear my inner child whoops gleefully. I just stand there smiling as I think "teddy bears!" Teddy bears aren't dangerous. Teddy bears are CUTE! Too cute. They are the epitome of cuteness all smushed up and adorable. Their little faces... Their little eyes... I don't feel the urge to run from bears. When I come into the presence of bears all I want is to hug them and snuggle. Yes, I am aware, it's stupid people like me who end up as bear chow, but I just can't help myself. I consider myself a fairly rational person, and yet, amazingly, cuteness can completely override both logic and common sense.