As I look around this time of year - leaves off the trees, flowers now brown, insects and other small creatures hidden away - I can't help but think of the wisdom of Nature.
Months ago, as the amount of daylight was shrinking and temperatures started to decline, plants and animals were heeding these signals and starting to store energy for the coming winter.
Deciduous trees and bushes like oaks and maples literally shut down for the season. Sap no long flows, and without leaves, photosynthesis - that energy producing machine - ceases. Perennial plants like coneflowers and hostas die back to the ground after storing as much energy in their roots as they can. Frogs find a mucky spot where they nestle in for the winter, their vital signs dropping to near zero as they enter a state of suspended animation.
When the snow and ice and freezing temperatures arrive, they are ready. And rather than fight back against the weather with shovels and salt and four-wheel drive, they wait. They wait patiently while the amount of daylight grows longer and the temperatures climb ever so slowly.
The plants and animals are ready for winter. Are you?
The amount of daylight will continue to shrink for another two weeks, only to reverse the pattern December 22nd. So, there is still time to ready oneself for winter. Perhaps take a lesson from Nature, and relax for a time rather than fighting against the inevitable?
Embrace the next snow by choosign to stay home that day rather than cursing the inconvenience of the weather and tackling the roads. Build a snow-person, or take a walk with a camera and see the patterns and shapes that the blanket of snow creates.
Don't fight the first ice storm. Make a cup of hot cocoa and do the crossword puzzle in the paper, or pull out that book that sits on the shelf still unread!
And when the temperature drops, find a loved one to snuggle with, rather than turning up the thermostat. Enjoy those quiet moments that winter brings. Celebrate them!
Nature understands that this is a time to slow down and conserve one's energy - to recharge for the times ahead. Winter is Nature's gift, and for that I am truly grateful.