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A Corner of My Mind: Nature’s calendar

Forget the keeper of the days and months that hangs on your wall below the pretty pictures. It’s manmade and nature scoffs at it. Even the months, like counterfeit coin, have no base in Nature’s gold bullion. We’ve juggled the figures to match her rhythms. Down at the sea, the tides swell and recede in breaths of real Time.

On November 11, Nature heralded winter as it approached on silent paws of white, and dusted fields and trees and us. Listen, oh you inhabitants of the highlands, to the warning in winter’s growl: Beware, yon creatures. Be forewarned! I bring the dark, cold days, the days of ice and snow. See them in my white grin as I stalk the peaks of the San Juan Mountains.

These are the days when Persephone lies with her husband, King Hades, in the Underworld, and her sad mother Demeter, Greek Goddess of the Corn, weeps tears of snow, and in the fallow fields grow only crystal bonds of ice. Even Lord Apollo hastens his chariot of fire across the sky in deference to bereft Demeter, and Nature herself bows before the weeping goddess.

Soon now, sheets of snow will catch on branches and gently cover the leafless, sleeping deciduous trees with soft white blankets that reflect the waning sun in sparkling diamonds of light. The evergreens have shed old needles and face winter with the danger of water loss, made greater on warm, sunny days, while dormant insects and feeding birds huddle beneath the shade of their branches. The young animals of last spring play in the snow with childish innocence of the white death that lurks in flurries of flakes. For this is the season of the wolf, and the coyote and the mountain lion, who bound across crusty snow while deer and elk break through. This is the time when hunting animals feast on winter-killed cud-chewers who find little nourishment beneath the snow or above, and Nature herself culls the hungry herds.

These are the days of crackling fireplaces and steaming mugs of cocoa and the scrape of snow shovels, and treacherous roads. Should you grow nostalgic for the carefree days of summer as you careen across black ice, be of good cheer. Just think, the damn bears are tucked in their dens and we can safely put out our garbage the night before pickup!

Stay warm.