Middle Winter

The least remarkable time of year around here lasts from about mid-January to late March. The camellia blooms have faded, the last of the bahia grasses have singed from frost, and the rain just brings heavy fog and mud.

“How are the animals in this weather?” my coworkers will ask. I make my best effort to hide a smile. In Florida, yes, 29 degrees feels like an emergency. Livestock, however, are “rated” for anywhere between -30 and 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Horses grow woolly coats, much like the cows. As a rule, baby goats wake up on the other side of the womb only in the dead of winter — but after a bit of shivering, they bounce right along. Chickens may have it the worst, what with their non-mammal status. Nonetheless, they use their feather loft for heat and huddle together through the coldest of northern nights. Some even keep laying!

For us humans, the best part of this time of year is watching the light creep back in to the evenings. I have been counting the days to winter solstice and willing the minutes of sunset to tick closer to the 6 o’clock mark. We’re getting there. Patience.

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