Red-capped ladies swoop down aisles picking up fruits, meats, and vegetables; Omnipresent Christmas melodies waft down from speakers as children cavort;Destined for family and friends, winter travelers stuffed in vehicles meander in serpentine traffic.
Cardinals, woodpeckers, and others scavenge through shrubs and trees dining on reclusive seeds, nuts, and berries; Nature's purest music gently reverberates to cadence of branches rubbing together as trees sway and remnant oak leaves rattle and spatter; With military precision – geese advance southward drawn by warmth and light.
We may have much on our minds in the midst of December. The hustle and bustle of getting the holiday shopping completed; decorating our houses so everything is just-right for visitors; and checking out age-old recipes for those that await the final creations all year. There is much going on in the natural world, too.
Birds must find a constant supply of food to provide them with the needed energy for survival. This mast (seeds, nuts, berries, and other fruits, such as persimmon) is critical to their survival, especially in cold temperatures. Squirrels, chipmunk, voles, moles, and other small rodents, depend on their cache supplies they have stored throughout the autumn months.
Raccoons, skunks, and opossums are opportunists and eat whatever and whenever they can find something edible. (Of course, that term is used somewhat lightly here. What you and I may consider edible is an entirely different thing to an opossum.) All three of these animals are omnivores and will eat both meat and vegetation and are often scavengers. Coyotes, fox, and bobcats are at the top of the food chain and are predators. They hunt for their dinner which helps to keep populations in check.
When entering a forest, it may seem as if the animal activity is non-existent or subdued. Yet each animal's movement has purpose. In winter, the movement is especially calculated because it burns precious energy.
We can learn a lot from our forest friends – how to conserve our energy; taking only the necessary trips to get the job done; minding our business when doing our work; respecting our neighbor. Perhaps the most important lesson here is keeping with the rhythm of our surroundings.
We can also use the forest as a battery-charger; when we are running on empty, worn out and feeling exhausted from the stresses and strains from life, we can go to the forest for a re-charge. Simply, go to a local public forest, walk in and find a secret spot and sit. Do nothing else, but sit and let our own battery be re-charged. The forest animals will go about their business and just let us be.
Families gather around the dinner table, a feast set before them; Stories read aloud as a fire burns brightly; Quilts layered atop beds, as children snuggle beneath, warmly tucked-in on a cold winter night.
Page 2 of 2 - Coyote brings a rabbit to his mate; Red-headed woodpecker, feathers puffed-up against the cold, climbs into his hole;
Fox nestled in his den, his thick red tail draped across his nose; moon rises.
Lynn Youngblood is a Kansas City-based naturalist who writes for Gatehouse Media.