Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mammals R Us

This time of year, I become acutely conscious of being a diurnal mammal. As winter descends, so do my energy and curiosity, so that all I want to do is eat large amounts of fatty foods and sleep. My cats do basically that, and I envy them the luxury. The rest of the year, they want to be outside all the time; now, they only bestir themselves for a brief change of scenery or a trip to the outdoor restroom. I content myself with looking out the windows and using indoor plumbing.

The happiest moment of every day is when I crawl beneath the electric blanket. The unhappiest moment of every day is when I wake up in the morning and it's still dark.

Some lucky critters get to bury themselves in the mud or a den, or migrate, or in other ways escape the season. The unlucky ones are out still there rooting desperately for food and shelter. I often wonder how our forebears endured life without houses and furnaces and electric blankets and supermarket-bought food stored in refrigerators, with electric lights and entertainment to beat back the darkness while wearing warm, comfy clothes and driving environmentally sealed cars. How brutal life must have been in earlier ages! How grateful I am to never know!

Just as often, I think about the advantage of this climate. Sure, winter is a drag, but it brings important pluses. In our neck of the woods, we don't have to worry about region-demolishing catastrophes such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, floods, mudslides, and wildfires. I'll gladly take a few months of winter for all my life to avoid experiencing any one of those, even once! Likewise, having 3-4 months of deep freeze manages insect pests in a way that spares us from plagues in garden and body, as can happen in warmer regions.

So I'll resist that primeval urge to hibernate and hang on through another winter. Spring, like a rainbow after a storm, arrives at the end. Which is worth many months of cold and darkness.

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