Gathering

Squirrel IMG_1138

Oviedo, FL: Perched high in my magnolia tree in the front yard, this little guy prepares for winter. Such as it is in Florida. I think they know they won’t suffer the hardships of their northern neighbors but they prepare nonetheless. It’s their nature.

It’s our nature too to prepare for winter. Preparation in the sub-tropics involves more ceremony that actual work. The first time the temperature dips below 70, the new sweaters come out, Uggs hit the street and people begin to talk about the tree in their neighborhood that is rich with changing colors. A blanket mysteriously appears on the couch and pumpkin pie ingredients move to the front of the grocery store. We pretend, in other words, that there is an autumn here and it will lead to winter.

Winter in central Florida is a gift. If the temperatures go below 60 it’s typically not for very long; a day, maybe three. Less than half the trees lose their leaves, grass just stops growing but doesn’t usually die completely and we still have nearly 12 hours of mostly sunny daylight. We can grill out year round and surf on Christmas.

While Mr. Squirrel gathers his food for the coming months of potential hardship, the humans begin to make soup and chili and troll vacation rental websites for a cabin “up north” where they may be able to see the snow. We borrow winter like stars borrow diamonds. We are in awe of the snow and crispness, but aware that we cannot keep it. So we have our pictures taken with it and share them with our friends who may still be trapped in paradise.

Our little magnolia squatter is a reminder of the shorter days that are just around the corner. He tells us to gather what we need, and only what we need, without fear and greed, and store it. Whether it is firewood or personal energy, there is no need to come from lack or scarcity if we are prepared.

Winter is coming. Go inward, even if you’re outside grilling.

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