Winter. Some love the word and the season. Others quickly grow tired of the cold and snow. Still others avoid it altogether by traveling to warmer climates. Very few have no opinion on the topic of “winter”.
For creatures in the wild, winter can often become a starving time. Grass eaters, like deer, can paw through shallow snow to find some dormant browse. But that becomes much more of an effort as the snow piles deeper. Those that are primarily meat eaters, such as coyotes, can sometimes find winter-killed carcasses even as the deepening snow impedes their travel to find more food. Hawks and owls also have difficulty finding mice and voles as they can stay below the surface of the snow.
With only 28 days, February can often seem like the longest month. Cold has been settling in the north for four months or longer. In most winters the blanket of snow has not really lifted for three months. Even people who enjoy the winter can become tired of wearing their long underwear and wool hats. Seemingly, snowfall has banished sunshine. In the word of Bear Claw Chris Lapp, “It stays long…” (Jeremiah Johnson, 1972). But things can begin to change as February moves along.
The period between sunrise and sunset grows longer, even if we rarely see the sun. A warming breeze from the south can bring some of the scents of spring. The occasional brush of sunlight on your face feels like there is some warmth. Temperatures can begin to rise and the snow pack appears to melt, although maybe not quickly enough for some. The spring birds begin to appear at our feeders and their courting songs fill the air.
Winter gives way to spring and spring flows into summer. The seasons change and time passes. We humans need to observe, record, and appreciate the panorama around us. Each season brings to us its own joys and lessons.