Nearly Winter Solstice

The days are soooo short. I feel it in my bones and in my psyche. I long for the sun. Too cold to sunbathe outside, I lie where sunbeams pour through the windows inside the house on the floor. The warmth soaks into my skin.

We are in the shortest two weeks of the year, and I feel that especially on cloudy days. Without the holiday parties and preparation for Christmas, I would be a homebody, content to sit and read under a blanket next to the fireplace.

Don’t you imagine that animals feel the same way? Here’s what some animals – and plants – are up to during these shortest days.

SeedNeed — The whitebark pine tree of the Sierra Nevada range relies on the Clark’s nutcracker to extract and bury its seeds around the landscape. In return, the nutcracker has access to caches of nutritious food throughout winter.

BuoyantBerriesCranberry plants produce dark red berries. Small air pockets inside the ripe berries cause them to bounce when dropped on the ground and float in water.

DeepRetreatWater spiders spend their entire lives submerged, only surfacing occasionally to feed and collect air, which they trap in an underwater silken bubble. In late autumn, they head for deep water to seal themselves inside a wintertime retreat.

MysteriousMigration — Before migrating, tuna gorge themselves on fish, crustaceans, squid, and eels to store fat. Two separate populations of Atlantic bluefin tuna share one feeding ground before migrating thousands of miles to feed at opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

PartOfThePackGray wolf packs are stationary during spring and summer while pups are being reared. They become nomadic in fall and winter when the young are strong enough to travel long distances.

(The above facts are taken from Chris Hardman’s Ecological Calendar 2013, www.ecocalendar.info )
DenDwellers — After expelling her eggs, a mother timber rattlesnake leaves her young to fend for themselves. They follow their mother’s scent to a communal hibernation den, which houses 30 to 200 snakes during winter and is reused for hundreds of years.

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