Science Bloggers for Students DonorsChoose Challenge

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter Solstice - Happy Holidays

Today is Winter Solstice - the shortest day and longest night of the year. For many it is a welcomed natural event - the return of the longer day. But the surrounding wildlife also marks its life calendars with the waxing and waning day length. As the days lengthen plants invisibly respond - shifting their sugar and nutrient stores to branches and limbs to sprout new leaves or blades of grass or beautiful flowers in the spring. The hormones of animals are responding so that they can be ready to mate and have babies in the spring. The soltice is like a magical clock setting for our natural world.

Enjoy the day and weather. If you indulge in winter recreation and sports that might not be so hard, but if you're not I know how it can be a challenge. However, bundle up and get out there anyway. The nature outside your window in winter is not the same as the nature in the spring, summer or fall.

The winter gives you a time look at your neighborhood anew. Leafless trees give you a chance to appreciate their height, shape, crown, spread and size of branches... a closer look at the bark, twigs, buds, and fruit...

and a chance to see animal signs like old bird nests.
Snow covered grass looks like green icicles.
Snow and ice covered lichens can now capute your attention

So have a happy winter solstice...

and a happy holiday.

Happy Hannakah and Merry Christmas

1 comment:

Vicky said...

Greetings! We spoke yesterday about this topic and I passionately believe that there is stuff to be seen in all seasons. I'm always surprised when I find myself the only one outside in the winter months.

As a hiker, the missing leaves definitely reveal the shapes of the trees like you write here (I love looking at burls , deformities, and trees growing into objects), squirrel nests like you mentioned yesterday and occasionally a new overlook suddenly appears where there is dense vegetation in the summer. I hit on that sometimes in a Season Compare series on my blog where I show the same spot over the course of the year.

I think another powerful winter opportunity is the ability to see frozen waterfalls. The patterns the ice makes is downright gorgeous and inspiring... and the waterfalls are not overpacked like they are in the spring and the summer.

Finally, I am a member of the American Chestnut Foundation and just this past year I learned that it is very easy to spot American Chestnuts in the forest...during winter! Without their distinctive hooked leaves, that didn't seem like it would make sense at first. But it turns out the darkened, cracked, diseased bark sticks out in the winter.

I very much enjoyed talking to you yesterday (Thanks for the FeedBurner advice) and I have no doubt that I'm going to be a huge fan of this blog. Keep up the great work!

Vicky

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