Amazing hidden nature... Trees, plants, animals, birds stay hidden with the cold winters we have in Maine where we live. I have been thinking of them specially this winter where we have had quite a few blizzards. It’s disconcerting to see everything dead out there. The birds are gone, the deer and wild turkeys no longer come out. Where do they go, what happens to them?
Here is what I found in an article about winter in Finland: “The preparation for winter is a long and complicated procedure for plants and animals. Only a small part of the adaptation for winter is visible, most of it happens in the cells where biochemical changes increase the cold and dry tolerance of cells. Still winter destroys a lot of life. Along with the tolerance of coldness and dryness, tolerance of winter includes the idea of how to survive the snow cover or the near lack of it. In estimating the effects of the snow cover on animals, the abilities to move in the snow, to find shelter in the snow, to dig food from under the snow, and to adapt to food above the snow has to be taken into account. Even though it’s dark under the snow, it’s quite “warm” there, the temperature is near zero (32*F) Many insects and small mammals spend the winter in the ground under the snow. Many animals are in dormancy during the winter. Trees and plants that are above the snow are the food for many herbivores. Seeds, bark and other living tissues are very wanted food, even conifer needles that contains resin are good enough. Those plant parts that are above snow are very cold and dry tolerant: the same shoots that may die in summer can tolerate coldness in the winter which can be -30 to -60*C. The root system of trees is well sheltered but they are usually very sensitive to cold if compared to those parts that are above the ground.”
What happens to animals in the Winter? This is a question that roamed through my head all winter this year. I live now in the country and am much more aware of the radical changes of nature. In the natural everything is gone and dead, but there must be life waiting!
Animals do many different, amazing things to get through the winter. Some of them “migrate” in the fall. Birds can fly very long distances. For example, the Arctic tern nests close to the North Pole and flies to Antarctica. Each spring it returns north again. That is a very long way even in a airplane! Most birds migrate shorter distances. But how do they find their way to the same place each year? Birds seem to navigate like sailors once did, using the sun, moon and stars for direction. They also seem to have a compass in their brain for using the Earth’s magnetic field.
Some animals “hibernate” for part or all of winter. The animal’s body temperature drops, and its heartbeat and breathing slow down. It uses very little energy. In the fall, these animals get ready for winter by eating extra food and storing it as body fat. They use this fat for energy while hibernating. Many eat extra food in the fall while it is plentiful. It is stored as body fat to be used later for energy. Hibernators have two kinds of fat: regular white fat and a special brown fat. The brown fat forms patches near the animal’s brain, heart and lungs. It sends a quick burst of energy to warm these organs first when it is time to wake up. You could call this a natural Induced Coma! The biggest problem for most animals in the winter is finding enough food. If an animal’s main source of food is very scarce in the winter, like insects or green plants, it may solve this problem by hibernating. This deep sleep allows them to conserve energy, and survive the winter with little or no food. Some, when the weather gets cold, move to the bottom of lakes and ponds. There, frogs, turtles and many fish hide under rocks, logs or fallen leaves. They may even bury themselves in the mud. They become dormant. Cold water holds more oxygen than warm water, and the frogs and turtles can breathe by absorbing it through their skin. What an amazing world we live in and why can’t we humans hibernate, that would be so much easier, no heating bills, no snow shoveling etc, wouldn’t that solve a lot of problems?
Matters of the heart are similar, we need to store good things in our hearts and have our inner being filled with love, peace, joy, kindness and such so it’s all there to grab, when we need it….like we withdraw money from our bank account.
How do we achieve this state? By resting in His Presence we are filled by God’s Spirit. The more often we do it, the more we receive! It’s a survival tool! This is a good way to store up peace and draw from that place when the time comes. Spending time in God’s Presence with our hearts ready to receive from Him is crucial. We send time with our family and friends in order to know them better. It’s a time we focus on relationship, a time of just receiving and not asking for anything specific. I call it soaking. I have done a lot of soaking where I place myself in a comfortable chair, or lie down on the floor and listen to Godly soothing music and get filled up. It has become necessary for me to do this in order to live a full and healthy life. It prepares me for difficult times where I do not have much of myself to give but God’s heart stored in me takes over!
What lessons are here for us? Like nature our lives go through seasons. Resting in His presence prepares us for all the seasons we may encounter. When adversity and chaos come, like what is happening in Boston right now with terrorism (our daughter lives in Cambridge in the midst of a city under siege, His peace will be found within us. There is a natural flow to our lives, we can’t fight nature! God made seasons in nature and we are to adapt to the seasons of our lives. All things are made beautiful in His time and there is no place far from His presence. He sees every bird, tree, bear, person and watches over them. Nothing is hidden from his sight.
“Be still and know that I am God!” Ps 46:10