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Chipmunk Hibernation

Chipmunk Hibernation (Photo credit: Riebart)

The weather is not on my side for camping adventures. We are having some dry, sunny fall days, but my days off again look snowy and cold, according to the forecast. Well, at least Tango and I can get out for walks. After November 3, when we turn our clocks back, those walks will be limited to the morning or early afternoon.

In many ways, however, I welcome the shorter, darker days. Darkness leads to a slowing down. Bears and many other mammals know this and don’t resist as their body metabolism all but stops, putting them into a state of torpor. Humans resist slowing down, even though our own sleep cycles are affected by an imbalance between hours of light and dark. There are biological reasons for wanting to stay in bed on a cold dark morning

I learned long ago to take advantage of the darker winter months, which offer a time of rest  and renewal and a chance to recharge emotional and spiritual batteries. The time I spent out in the garden and maintaining my yard is suddenly freed up for other pursuits. Rather than take on more busy work, however, I retreat in front of the fireplace to read, deepen my spiritual pursuits, and do some creative projects. And I don’t worry about staying permanently in low gear. As the days subtly begin to lengthen, like the hibernating creatures, I jar into action, planning the next garden, planning vacations and camping again.

bear

If you follow the Christian cycle, it offers a parallel spiritual season. Life is supposed to slow down as we approach the Christmas (Advent) season. About 6 weeks later, we go into a time of inner cleansing (Lent) and then we emerge full of new life on Easter. If you don’t follow this tradition, you can, however, create a resting and renewing cycle of your own, timed to begin with the shortening days and end with the bursting forth of new life in the spring.

You know you need the rest! Your life probably keeps you going in all directions and a lot of people count on you for care and love. Don’t be afraid to follow the bears, squirrels, and hedgehogs into the quiet dark and get some rest.

2 thoughts on “Shorter Days: A Time for Rest

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