It's that bittersweet time of year again, when the lazy, hazy days of summer are gone, and we must prepare for the truth that winter is coming. Summer residents are preparing and closing their cottages for the long winter to come. Locals prepare to endure and enthusiastically bemoan winter in the lovely Ottawa Valley. Not just human locals, either.
All around us, the creatures of the field and wood are also whispering the famous line from Game of Thrones: "winter is coming". So, while we stock up on hot chocolate and comfy quilts to wrap around ourselves for our winter hibernation, what are our watershed creature residents doing to prepare?
What happens to that snake that slithered across your feet this summer? The one that cost you a glass of wine and a quick clothing change. Sure he made you say a few expletives, but deep down, you mean him no harm and hope he winters well.
The snakes of our area will take refuge underground for the winter (under logs or in caves), often in large groups where they share their little remaining warmth, like a cuddle puddle of noodles. Occasionally, they can even be found staying rent-free in your basement!
Maybe you don't want to think about snakes. That's ok, and there are lots of other animals preparing for winter! What about our chipmunk and squirrel friends? The ones we feed all summer?
Like many rodents this time of year, chipmunks and squirrels are busy lining nests in trees and underground with their own version of comfy quilts to keep warm this winter. They are stuffing their faces and their pantries with food for the coming cold months. They need a good fat reserve on their bodies and close food storage. After all, who wants to go out in the cold every time they're hungry?
Speaking of rodents, a cousin to the rodents act a bit like us in the winter! Bats! Like many retirees, bats will either stay here or migrate hundreds of kilometres south. Those that remain here will remain in old mines, or caves, whatever comfortable accommodation they can
find. All of the bats spend their time before winter fattening up on as many insects as they can so that they can have a good fat reserve for their long winter nap.
Turtles and frogs treat winter the way I wish I could. They avoid winter altogether. Every year, turtles and frogs will dig into their wetland homes, submerging themselves underneath twigs, branches, and mud until spring brings a warmth that wakes their bodies again, what I wouldn't GIVE to be able to curl up under a quilt in bed until spring!
So, there you have it. All of nature's creatures are united in preparing ourselves for winter. All are hoping to keep ourselves warm and fed until spring comes back to us. As we at the Watershed Council wind down our physical projects, we know winter is also a time for preparing.
If you are interested in helping us prepare for next year's projects, either by donating or getting involved, please don't hesitate to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
"What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness" John Steinbeck