Vestigial Remnants of Hibernation?

It is frigid outside and has been for a long time.  It is very cold in many parts of the country.  The holidays have come and gone.  The hoopla of the inauguration is over.  Now begins the nitty-gritty of hard winter work.  I find myself listless and not wanting to go outside or exercise or paint or take pictures or do much of anything I usually love to do.  I have a cold but that does not excuse this lassitude.   When I go to my favorite deli, I find that Terry, the sandwich lady, is in the same mood.  “I was ready to go home the moment I came in,” she says.  My husband was dour and I was sour.  What is the meaning of this discontent?  Could it be some vestigial remnant of human hibernation?  While man has never hibernated, science finds his metabolism slows down in winter and he becomes less active.  Binging on food and drink over the holidays may not be the sole reason for weight gain in winter.  Perhaps we should be sleeping off the extra pounds.

I who love winter and live for fall each summer, find myself longing to hear the music of the spring peepers.  It is months away– well about a month and a half away.  They signal for me the first harbingers of new life.  Terry, who also loves winter, tells me today she is sick of winter as she makes our sandwiches.  Perhaps it is this string of Arctic air and grey days and icy road conditions and snow every few days.  Perhaps, and more likely, it is the human condition to always be dissatisfied.

P1110411_edited-2Hibernaculum for turtles and other animals

 I miss the squirrels.  It has been so cold and snowy they seem to be laying low in their nests.  Judging from the tracks in the snow the animals most on the move are the deer.  And as much as I love the silence of winter, I find myself longing for the sweet dulcet music of birdsong at mating season in spring.

We bought a calendar for the new year with a celestial map of the sky for each month so you can find the constellations in the night sky.   We have yet to go out with flashlights and match the map with the canopy of stars.  It has been too overcast or too cold or too something.  But my dazzled psyche is humbled by the view of the stars through the stripped down trees that we see from bed every night.

Then again maybe it is laziness.  Too many sugar highs in December have led to a deep low in February.  And after a tease of spring one day in which the temperature reached almost 60 degrees we were let down even further.  Not liking being unproductive, I think I can overcome this.  But maybe I should just go with the flow and accept a period of inactivity, let the land lay fallow, so that an increase in productivity may eventually result.

I know I should focus on what is positive.  Winter is the season of silent beauty that I so long for in the summer heat. I delight in the quiet of winter days.  The snows bring a hushed stillness good for the soul.  It is a time to regroup.  Spring will come.  Hopefully if man has not destroyed all the vernal pools, the spring peepers will return.  And if pesticides have not destroyed all the birds, sweet mating songs will be sung.  And if the weather turns more clement, our spirits will soar once again, and we will be busy bees making honey while the sun shines.

7 responses

  1. So beautiful pictures!


    February 4, 2013 at 11:26 AM

  2. Orion is now bright and beautiful, joined by Sirius and the Twins in the winter Hexagon. Yesterday a blackbird started singing here, annoucing spring too early, but the early bird finds a partner. I think winter brings us down because of the lack of light. Blue skies with severe temperatures are much easier to swallow than temperatures around freezing with cloudy skies all the time. Spring is not too far anymore …


    February 5, 2013 at 3:06 AM

    • You mentioned the sun rising at 9AM or later in one post. Are you in the Orkneys? You don’t have to answer if this is an inappropriate question but the northern lights on your logo and all, I was curious. Yes, light is important to our psyches. We have been below freezing here for awhile. I actually like the cold. It is invigorating while outside but inside this lassitude sets in. Nice that you heard a blackbird. No sign of one yet here. We are near a swamp and our neighbor has a pond so we await the spring peepers eagerly. Do you have them?


      February 5, 2013 at 10:36 AM

  3. Not the Orkneys, Brussels. By air the orkneys must not be far. For our lattitude (51.5N) (more or less the same as James Bay in Canada) we have a very mild climate thx to the Atlantic Gulf Stream) – but the sun is quite low. I never had the luck to see the aurorae with my own eyes. There is too much light polution here, and the chances of seeing are low since we usually don’t come out too often during winter nights.
    Last week we had very mild temperatures like 10C, but that did not last long. Now it’s just above freezing, and snowing now and then.
    No spring peepers here, but a lot of ordinary frogs. They’ll come out soon and join their nightly chorus. They sit in the grass at the edge of the forest, and in some ponds nearby.
    I saw a heron yesterday, so the frogs are probably testing the waters.


    February 5, 2013 at 4:45 PM

    • The picture you paint is lovely (minus pollution). We have all kinds of frogs as well and the wonderful choruses starting late afternoon. The heron we watch has not come back yet and the pair of bald eagles are gone as well. Still very icy and cold upstate. They are expecting 8-12 inches of snow this Friday so we cannot go up for a third weekend in a row (have a 21-year-old car that skids). Thank you for sharing– it is nice to know where you are.


      February 6, 2013 at 9:44 AM

      • The pollution is not environmental, but light from the city and the nearby airport, diminishing the starshine and the power of the milky way. But Jupiter is very bright right now.


        February 6, 2013 at 6:23 PM

      • The stars are almost totally obliterated in the New York City but upstate there is minimal light pollution though it is on the increase. We have seen Jupiter for quite some time. But just down the road a light on a tall post shines in our window at night– the nearest light. It shines like the eye of Mordor. But it may be what gives us the Internet connection so I guess it is progress that I can’t complain about.


        February 7, 2013 at 12:08 PM

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