After what seems like weeks and weeks, and then more weeks, of rain, sunshine has finally burst through the grunge. The difference a few warm rays can make in a person’s attitude is truly remarkable. It is almost as if a smothering pillow has been lifted off my face and I can breathe again.
So why does my brain still feel like it is in hibernation? I really do feel better, smile more, and look forward to the days ahead. Vitamin D is indeed a miracle drug, but I obviously still need some kind of magical motivation.
It is fair to say that if you look up “sloth” in the dictionary during winter, you will no doubt see my picture. Not that I am all that lazy, I just hate the cold.
And much like a kid after summer vacation, when Mother Nature wakes her beloved children in the spring and invites me back into the fray, I move like a pig in mud. Seasonal habits die hard.
So, I started thinking about how all walks of life react to seasonal changes. We all know that bears are notorious for long winter naps, and it made me wonder if they too have a slow recovery after hibernation. As usual, it was a fascinating trip down the rabbit hole.
First of all, did you know there are over 20 animal species that hibernate? I knew that many disappear from view during the winter months, but I attributed that to just finding warmth somewhere else.
In addition to bears, bats, bumblebees, hummingbirds, ladybugs, box turtles, ground squirrels, chipmunks, garter snakes, raccoons, and lizards all hibernate – meaning they self-regulate certain bodily functions (body temperature, slow breathing/heart rate, metabolic rate) to survive when climate presents danger and lack of food.
Think about it. How cool would that be? To “bulk up” in the fall by eating anything you want, sleep through the worst of winter days, and wake up losing about one-third of your body weight? Dairy Queen and I would be on a first-name basis.
Sadly, of course, humans could not survive this function. Only members of the animal kingdom can fast for long periods without losing muscle and bone composition.
Bears mysteriously convert their metabolic waste/excrement into protein which allows them to maintain muscle tone and strength during hibernation. I find that absolutely amazing.
And, to answer my initial question, no, bears do not wake up with a spring in their step. They are groggy, cranky, and in a state of walking hibernation for 2-3 weeks while returning to their summer metabolic state. Sounds just like me. It must be true…don’t poke a sleeping bear.
So, I guess there is hope. I wish I could be hooked up to a high-powered battery and jump-started overnight into a productive existence. But if Yogi “Smarter Than the Average” Bear has to waddle his way back into civilization after a cold winter’s nap, I can too.
Quoting French playwright, actor, and poet, Moliere, “Trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit.” Does that mean my summer will be fruitful? Ah, but that is fodder for yet another rant.
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