Surviving Winter

Winter is hard. Winter in Canada is hard. Winter in Canada during a global pandemic is hard! What helped you through the cold months? I know they aren’t over yet – March is untrustworthy!

In my previous post I talked about my obsession with the Snowy Owl that was perched at the docks near my apartment. That was motivation for me to visit the lake regularly and try to go at different times.

One morning, I discovered the sunrise! It was INCREDIBLE! After the Snowy Owl departed, watching the sun rise became my motivation to get outside early!

I know what you’re thinking. Waking up early is one thing, going outside in the winter is another. But, waking up early and going outside in the winter when there is no need to…? Even I can’t believe I do it.

Going for a walk early morning has so many benefits for me. The first and foremost – there are not many people around, so it’s quiet! And the people who are around are nice! Another reason to try to get outside early: it’s an amazing way to start your day! Be immersed in nature and ground yourself at the beginning of your day. I saw things I wouldn’t see at any other time. Ducks and Geese waking up from their night slumber. Swans taking a bath in the Lake. Long-tailed Ducks flying onto the water making their calls. Red breasted Mergansers doing their dances in the sunrise. It’s a special time of day that I truly began to treasure.

I began to really appreciate things that I missed out on before, like watching the Sun illuminate the sky. On cold days, the steam across the Lake would show itself as the sun rose and it’s breath taking!

I know, not everyone has circumstances that allows them to do this. But even just once a week – make the sacrifice to get up early and watch the sun rise – even if it’s from your bedroom window. Taking in nature and appreciating it is so amazing for reducing anxiety and being present in the moment, remembering there are bigger things in life than your personal problems. Everything feels more manageable after I made this a regular habit.

Another thing that has helped me survive the winter months so far, is a little Black-capped Chickadee that befriended us.

Chickadee’s are friendly little birds. This one in particular is extra friendly! He comes to our hands to feed off the sunflower seeds we offer him. I visit with him almost daily – if I can find him!

Black-capped Chickadees seldom remain at feeders except to grab a seed to eat elsewhere. They are acrobatic and associate in flocks—the sudden activity when a flock arrives is distinctive. They often fly across roads and open areas one at a time with a bouncy flight.

We call him Pip. We know it’s the same Chickadee that feeds from our hands because he has this little black line on one side of his body. The others don’t have that.

Pip is fearless! Sometimes he brings a friend or two with him, but they are usually quite shy. Pip on the other hand is bold and comes to the food without reserve! He takes a seed and flies to a nearby branch to shell it. He then hides the seed and comes back to repeat the process. He will do this until he has had enough, or until we walk away. In some cases, he follows us!

Every fall, black-capped chickadees will cover an enormous territory gathering seeds and storing them in hundreds of hiding places in preparation for winter. Thanks to an incredible spatial memory, these birds will make their way back to each of their caches throughout the winter to feed…The bird’s hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for organization and memory, actually expands in volume by 30% by adding new nerve cells. Once spring arrives an memory is needed less, the hippocampus reverts back to its normal size.

Joel Sartore – Photo Ark

Pip unknowingly has added so much joy to my life! I love observing him! I know this little chickadee doesn’t rely on me as a food source but it’s so calming and fulfilling to spend a little time everyday searching for him and feeding this little bird from my hand!

Nature has helped me survive the Winter months. I know it will continue to help me find joy during these weird times, and beyond that!

I recently watched a program about being Happy – something we can never get enough of! Happiness is a bi-product of gratitude. Gratitude has the power to heal, radiate hope and nullify negativity. Connecting with nature can promote gratitude. Nature helps to discharge negative anxiety; it shifts our attention to something safe, enduring and outside ourselves. Gratitude helps us to feel good, and inspires us to do good. These were the points I took away from that program and I have really been trying to make an effort to be more mindful of how grateful I am for what I have.

Nature helps to discharge negative anxiety; it shifts our attention to something safe, enduring and outside ourselves.

I know this post is a bit off from what I usually post about, but the whole reason I started blogging was to help me with these times right now. So this one is a bit of a “check in.” I hope you have enjoyed looking at some images of the sunrises I see, and meeting my new friend, Pip!

Stay safe and if possible, immerse yourself in some nature!

Thanks for viewing,

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