Note: This column was printed in the Barrow Journal on January 16, 2013.
When we walk through the woods this time of year, most of the animals and insects are burrowed under the ground or huddled together in whatever holes they can find. My son’s favorite animal, the snake, will find a place to burrow underground and sleep through the cold weather. Rabbits and deer don’t hibernate. They’ll be on the lookout all season for any leaves, barks or twigs they can find to eat.
Frogs don’t hibernate either, but they go into a dormant state where they sleep most of the time. They may wake up on warmer days and go out for a bite to eat. They have a chemical in their bloodstream that’s kind of like antifreeze, which is how they can survive the freezes.
The black bears in Georgia are probably sleeping now, and the females may have their babies in the den this winter. The cubs will stay with mama for a year before she urges them to fend for themselves in early spring or summer of next year.
Did you know that this is the time of year that Right Whales migrate from New England to the coasts of Georgia and Florida, and the females will give birth here anytime between December and March?
The squirrels huddle together in their nests on cold days. We can see the squirrel’s nests high up in the trees now that the leaves have fallen. Their nests are big and messy, and they have spent the warmer months collecting acorns and other food for the winter. Sometimes they like to bury their food in my garden beds, but they forget about it, and I have to pull the tiny beginnings of trees from the soil in spring.
Many birds are migrating south this time of year, and fortunately for us, Georgia is a winter home for many of them. I’ve spied more hawks sitting on electrical wires along our roads, and my son made a peanut butter/bagel bird feeder in his winter mini-camp that will feed a variety of them. My favorite feathered friend, the northern cardinal, is a year-round resident of Georgia. It’s especially beautiful in the winter when its red feathers brighten up the brown landscape.
In my house, I have one little boy who refuses to wear coats in the winter, so he prefers to play indoors. The other one (who refuses to wear shorts in the summer) is happy to wrap up and take a hike during his camp. But they’re both finding more time to pull out the art supplies and fill one of the walls in our kitchen, a.k.a “the art gallery,” with their masterpieces.
I have a husband who is back at work after a winter break and burrowed in front of his computer screen.
I may not be an animal that hibernates or goes dormant during the cold months, but I sure wish I could. Usually I crave time spent outside, but lately I’ve been happy to wear my sweats around the house and not get any exercise at all. If it weren’t for the demands of my children, I would curl up on the sofa with a good book all day.
I’ve been spending less time on social media, less time reading the news, and generally wanting to get away from my usual habit of doing too much. It’s a good season for that, so I’m just going with it.
Today the weather got a little warmer, and I talked my children into going for a walk with me. I pulled the three-year-old in our wagon, and my six-year-old walked beside me, playing make-believe as a he held onto a toy frog. Both of my boys kept pointing to things as we walked. Two geese flying over our heads, decorative yard art, litter, and a patch of dirt on the road were all topics of conversation.
I love living in Georgia because I can depend on warm spells in winter that will stir me into action. But on the colder days, I’ll have to drag myself out of bed and hope that the enthusiasm of these boys will be enough to rouse this sleepy mama.