Friday, January 16, 2009

The Purpose of Winter

I've given much thought to the purpose of seasons these past few days. In fact, I've been doing nothing but thinking and reading this past week, since it's far too cold outside to do much of anything else.

First there's spring. My favorite season of the year. Spring gives me promise and hope. It's the season for birth and renewal. The birds are singing and the first sign of flowers pop out of the ground for all the world to see if they look for it.


Then there's summer. Summer to me represents growth. I see it in my garden (especially the weeds). The birds are taking care of their babies who are growing by the day.


Fall is harvest. It's time to harvest the bounty that has grown upon us all summer. This includes the leaves that fall from the trees, as their season of growth is over and it's time to shed that growth to be ready for next year.


The season I have the most difficult time pondering is winter. What exactly is the purpose of winter. I think about this as I'm pressing my face against the window eagerly searching for the birds. It is 7:30 am and there is not one bird out there. I start to worry because it was so cold last night. I think of frozen bodies of birds out in my yard who didn't make it through the night. I search the sky for starlings in hopes for a glimpse of even them. Winter is harsh and unforgiving, especially for the birds. Is winter the season for survival of the fittest in the animal world? A season to rid nature of the weak and suffering? That is probably an extreme feeling to associate with winter, but I can't help to feel this way with the cold temperatures we have been having.



I finally see some of my regulars at the feeder. This tufted titmouse has discovered the shelled peanuts I put out for him in a feeder and he flys off to get it. A cardinal sees the feeder too and waits for the tufted titmouse to be done so he can grab one too.


And then I see the bird I've been waiting for. The Carolina Wren. My neighbors and I call him Stubby because he seems to have lost his tail feathers this winter and all that is left is a little stub. He's been in my brush pile and decides to peek his head out to see what's for breakfast. I grab my camera and curse the lack of sun which makes getting a decent photo impossible (plus the fact that the brush pile is far from my window). I have often read that Carolina Wrens die in weather this extreme. This one has survived another day and I find myself happy because of it.


I walk away from the window with a better perspective on winter. Winter is a time for rest. The trees are resting, the bears are resting, and I am resting on the couch with a good book and my favorite blanket with a hot cup of tea. I hope the birds find a warm place to rest tonight and stay safe so they can be ready for spring. I think we are all ready for spring.

Just came in here to add this photo. His mate came and found the peanuts. I have to thank Sharon for the thumbs up on the peanut feeder. All the birds love them. I am going to have to get the smaller ones at the pet store though because I actually shelled these ones myself and they are too big. The wren gets to them just fine though!

15 comments:

NCmountainwoman said...

Winter has become our favorite season here. The tourists are gone and the trails are not crowded with loud obnoxious people. We can stop by our favorite coffee shop and not have to wait for a space. The bare trees reveal many surprises (some not so great like the huge hornet's nest in our yard) and we still enjoy a variety of birds.

Deborah Godin said...

Wonderful winter ruminations of the cycle of sesons. I was thinking about the cold's effect on birds today, too. I can't remember if I read this is a field guide or another birder told me, but siskins apparently are very susceptible to hypothermia. How they all manage I can't begin to understand!

ramblingwoods.com said...

It sure makes us appreciate good weather doesn't it? The starlings emptied 4 of my feeders today..empty. So I had to go out and put out the smaller weight sensitive feeders that only small birds can use. I can't keep the starlings off the ground feeders, but I would if I could...

"The starling is a virtual killing machine, an avian terminator. Armed with a dagger like beak, powerful long legs, sharp claws, and a muscular body, they are truly the super competitor. Purple martins, bluebirds, woodpeckers, house sparrows, and other hole nesting birds are no match for starlings. Some times, a determined flicker or other woodpecker will successfully defend its nest against starlings, but starlings usually reign supreme. Starlings will readily kill weaker birds, like purple martins, in ferocious battles inside the nest. The starling will grip the purple martin in its claws, hold the martin down, and savagely peck at the martin's head and eyes. Few martins can escape and will be killed."

dAwN said...

Hi Kallen..
It is nice to have that time of rest that winter brings..I lived in new england all my life and I loved winter..thought I would never want to be anywhere else....well...I was wrong..

we spend the months of november and december in North Carolina and a few weeks in Connecticut..we have our sampling of winter which is enough for me...then off to warmer climes...and actually warmer for me means ideally in the high sixties low seventies..and I like chilly at night...

I am glad that you have found the peace in winter...and I smile when i think of you waking up early with your face looking out the window for your birdies!

Steve B said...

I've been dealing with cold weather for more years than I care to admit. In Colorado, the Broad-tailed Hummingbirds would come in early spring. Sometimes we'd get these long Spring snows and yet these birds (weighing about the same as a postage stamp) would survive the snowfalls. I don't know how they do it. Nice post.

Mary said...

Sounds like you have a case of the winter doldrums. I'm a sufferer, too! But, we do need winter. I only wish the temperatures and weather weren't so severe...

Our winters are mild but the days are short. We ARE having record-breaking lows tonight, though.

Shellmo said...

Interesting topic you posted today to ponder the seasons! I always looked at winter as the season of rest and introspection. But I will tell you - these negative temperatures below zero are really trying my patience! Your cardinal photo was fantastic!!

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi Kall--We have to have winter in order to have spring. It's death before life... I lived in Texas for 12 yrs. Even though they have the four seasons down there, they are not pronounced. I missed the seasons so much when I lived there

I love Winter...It's the only time I can stay inside and do things that I don't do the remainder of the year (read, family history, computer work, etc.)... I think it's a time to reflect and regroup... Without winter, spring wouldn't be nearly as special...

Sorry about your Starlings. I hope ours have moved on!!!
Hugs,
Betsy

Jayne said...

I liked this line from Ruth's blog, Body, Soul, Spirit this morning...

"This deep winter garden is full of promise, awaiting the nudge of longer days and warmer temperatures to show us it is not dead, just in a deep slumber."

Everything needs time to rest and rejuvenate so that it can build up the stamina to bloom once again. That, to me, is what winter is all about. And I agree wholeheartedly with Betsy. Without the winter, spring would not be nearly as special or anticipated. :c)

Richard said...

Winter...a time to look back at last year and look forward to a better one.

Rich said...

It is all a part of change. The dismal months help us appreciate the good months. My dismal months are ones with constant rain. Snow gets old after a while too. Having lots of cloudy days sure makes me appreciate when the sun is out.

A cold winter will keep the bug population down in the summer? I was told that once.

Jessica said...

Hello, I am new to your blog. I came across the link to your blog from some of the other bird blogs that I visit. I enjoy your bird stories and photos. I'll be back to visit.

A New England Life said...

Wow, I am so far behind on your blog! My apologies : /

What great pictures you've taken lately. You should be happy with all the wonderful birds you've captured. There's a real variety coming to visit the daily buffet in your backyard.

Glad you like the peanut feeder. The birds think it's the best, don't they?! It's so funny how they are all jockeying for a place to land first thing in the morning and are particulary thrilled when they can get ahold of a large piece of a peanut! Hopefully you were able to find some bagged shelled peanuts. I bought a good sized bag for only $6. Not to shabby. Much cheaper than the peanuts we eat!

matthew houskeeper said...

I really enjoyed this post.
I think winter is a time when we turn more inward.
Even warmer climates have a certain degree of winter. The southwest for example, has its droughts and wildfires, interrupted by a years worth of rain in a six week period.

Anonymous said...

Awesome!!!

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