While the winter solstice is still three weeks away, the calendar has flipped to December and the last 24 hours have provided the first real taste of winter. Though periods of cold weather were spaced through the autumn and warm interludes are sure to follow, the cold, darkness, wind and snow of this past day surely marked a transition.
Cold temperatures, day and night, will now rule until March, when the sun begins to reclaim its territory. In the meantime, darkness and quiet will prevail, a survival mode will be adopted and hunters will rule the landscape. And, of course, many humans will retreat to the great indoors and dream of spring.
But those of us who relish the stark beauty of winter will take to the deserted trails and enjoy the quiet solitude of this maligned season. There we will find that our wild neighbors, undaunted by the cold, have no interest in the calendar. For them, retreat is not an option.