Monday, March 1, 2010

Sleepy Time

Well, it's officially March. I now feel justified in complaining if the weather takes a dip below 20 degrees, or if it snows again... even though historical patterns hint that inevitable, it will snow again. But somehow, in my mind, we've passed a barrier. March is the month when spring officially begins (20 days hence) and we should be marching (ha!) in that direction, at least.

February went out with some miserable weather -- mid-30's yesterday with sleety rain. Lovely. The type of weather that makes you want to curl up and read a book. Which is pretty much what I did, despite some good intentions and a mounting mess in the house. On Friday, I began a sketch when I was out with a class of alder catkins, which are beginning to swell... or maybe they spend the whole winter looking bloated and I don't notice until I'm ready to start picking out signs of spring. But some of them are small, compact, and burgundy, while others are both longer and fatter, with bright green visible at the seams. Anyhow. I began a sketch, but it was quite cold on Friday and there was only so much sketching I could do outdoors. I pulled a catkin to bring with me and finish the drawing over the weekend... but that didn't happen, either. Yes, that's right. I committed flora-cide and I didn't even use the thing. I had aspirations of blogging, I really did.

My dad said once that he thinks that all mammals, including us, have an ancient denning instinct. Although only a few mammals truly hibernate -- bats, ground squirrels -- many den up in the winter. They may cache food or have enough of a metabolic slow-down that they don't eat at all. They may come out every few weeks to poke around (as skunks and opossum are known to do) or stay hidden for the entire season (as with bears, the most famous hibernators-who-don't-truly-hibernate). And so the idea is that we are like the chipmunks under the front stoop or the raccoon under the back porch... hunkering down, waiting out the cold, curling up for a nap.

I like this theory for more than one reason. The first is that it gives me a biological excuse for laziness during the months of the year when I am most likely to be lazy. The second is that it acknowledges our connection to the wild in ourselves and to our wild relatives. In the end, it takes a long time to overcome the behavioral patterns that have led to evolutionary success, and we humans haven't been bucking the system for that long, in the grand scheme of things. We are still, at the core, animals, and we are still governed by natural rhythms, no matter how much we try to ignore them.

This is actually why I like snow days, as well. No, not because I get to stay home and curl up and follow my natural instinct to den in the winter, if not hibernate... actually, it's because when we take snow days, it is acknowledging that we are not, as humans, in control of everything. We may want to be and think we are, but at the end of the day, nature has the ultimate control. And it shouldn't take an earthquake killing hundreds, or even an extraordinary 24-inches-in-one-day storm, to remind us of that. A simple mid-western weather event will suffice. When flights are cancelled due to weather, everyone gets angry. On snow days, we remember to be humbled instead of mad, and we celebrate the season we're in.

Enough of that. Yawn. If I curl up under my desk and sleep through my classes, do you think the excuse that I'm just following my natural instinct to den will hold water?

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