Everything seems to be sleeping now. The days are short, the trees have dropped their leaves and appear dead even. This is in harmony with other living things to allow more life giving sunlight through during the times it is needed most. The trees will sleep now, but in spring and summer they are wide-awake to absorb the excess energy falling on the earth and protect all living things with shade while processing toxic gasses into life giving oxygen.
While the trees appear to sleep, I wonder what all is really going amongst their vast root systems underground? Things don't die when it gets cold and wet, life seems to move underground during the winter and slows its metabolism to slumber for a time. Once this was described to me as movement of green from the treetops to the surface and then back again.
I like the region I live in because we have very distinct seasons blown in by strong winds every now and then. Summer gives way to fall with strong delta breezes that cool the nights and massage the heavy branches leaves, drying them with scant rainfall for months, preparing them for the first strong winter storm that will bring lots of rain and wind to finally knock millions of dead leaves to the ground. These leaves are a precious source of nutrients and sequestered carbon that can now be returned to the soil. The long, wet, cold winter decays the leaves, turning them into food for things that live in the ground.
A significant population of squirrel, rodent and bird shares this urban landscape. Despite hazards and encroachment by humans, these creatures persist in going about life much as they always have. In the park ducks, gulls and other water birds will readily gobble up bread or whatever scrap of food people may toss. I find it interesting squirrels have not taken up this practice. Instead, they avoid people decisively skittering up trees as easily as they race across the ground. Though I have not noticed it, I bet they rummage through the trash cans when they can – perhaps late at night when it is unlikely people will come around.
Or maybe the squirrels have learned that the crap people eat is bad for them and just stick to the food source that occurs naturally in this abundant area. This deserves further investigation, the results of which will be a nifty topic for a future article. Meanwhile, even though the trees seem to be asleep, the world is quite alive during winter, just in a different way. I am grateful for the change of seasons, for the rest I also get during these long cold nights and for the opportunities to work with dormant trees while they slumber. You see, trees that lose their leaves each year can be safely transplanted near the end of winter, just before the ground warms enough for everything to awaken. If not for winter, we might not ever be able to grow fruit and nuts on our own land.
I like winter a lot.