If you're like me, you are always alert for something nature-wise going on outside the window in winter. Anything. The snow just sits there, not melting, not moving. The occasional chickadee flits by the feeder, a squirrel scampers up the cottonwood. But besides this, it appears that the world is standing still. And it would seem that a watched landscape never thaws.
Yet there are all manner of biological processes occurring right under our noses. Not the fancy stuff of summer; not the bright flowers and brilliant feathers among lush green growth that flaunts itself on sunnier days. This sort of activity is slower, you might say slow-motion, than we are accustomed to observing. It is subtle, almost silent, and elegant.
'In the bleak midwinter, water like a stone', is unrecognizable. Under the snow, decomposition is turning leaf debris and worm droppings into soil. In whatever leaves are left, cell walls are bursting as ice crystallizes. Beneath frozen ponds fish float like ghosts in suspended animation. In small snug dens, tiny hearts are barely beating as torpor marks time. In some hibernation is happening. Birds shiver to hold fast to a body heat with zero tolerance for error. Glycol, yes, anti-freeze forms in the bloodstreams of others, allowing life to continue in frigid cold.
And you would say nothing's blooming, but look at the lichens.
The shadows will start to shorten soon. Only 79 days until spring.