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NOV. 25, 2013

Giving Thanks for Winter

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by Caroline Toy, Assistant Director

I bet that for a lot of people, reading that title makes you say “Oh no! Not yet! It’s still fall!” When it’s cold and rainy, I agree! Autumn is headed out; while the leaves are still gloriously red on some trees, the view through the forest is lengthening between the mostly-bare branches. Winter is coming. And while those words sound ominous, there’s a lot to be thankful for:

• Night noises. Back in the early fall, I talked on this blog about the most distinctive noise of October: geese. For the most part, the geese have long since gone to Florida by now. The sounds of winter are (appropriately) most vivid at night. The howls of a pack of coyotes or the song of a lone owl take on an extra chill on a winter night. Far off and strange, they make me especially glad for my warm fire…
• Wood heat. For some of us, heating with wood is an adventure that comes around when you lose power in an ice storm and camp out around the fireplace until the heat comes back on. I have great memories of doing that as a kid! Winter is a great excuse to have a fire and, if you have access to a sustainable source of wood, cut back on your electricity or gas consumption. I’m lucky to have a woodstove, and heating with fire actually helps me notice what’s going on in the natural world, and especially the weather, more closely.
• Wool sweaters. There’s something much cozier about layering up with a warm sweater than turning up the thermostat.
• Family and friends. Winter has been a time full of holidays for centuries, and a time for gathering with families and friends. Most of us will be celebrating Thanksgiving this week, and looking ahead to Christmas, Hanukkah, the Winter Solstice, or other holidays (maybe more than one!). Take a moment as you gather together to step out into the crisp air of the coming winter, and appreciate the coming season.