The Lost Art of Hibernation


| 1/16/2019 12:00:00 AM


 

farm signDecember 21st is the Winter Solstice and officially the first day of winter. Usually here in the Ozarks, fall begins in October when the leaves turn beautiful reds, golds, and browns and the squirrels start scurrying for nuts to store up for winter. Our resident black bear passes through foraging one last time to increase his fat content, and ground hogs begin to insulate their burrows with dried grass and some hay stolen from our barn. All of this is in preparation for a long winter's nap, which usually begins around Christmas time.

When my father was growing up here on the farm, people were more in tune with the rhythm of nature than they are now. Electricity didn't arrive here until the 1950's, so evenings were spent with the glow of kerosene lanterns and light from the fireplace. Daylight savings time kicks in somewhere in early November here, so my family began to settle in to bed around 6 or 7 o'clock and rise again just before sunrise the next morning to gather up the cows for milking. By the time the sun was up, most of the cows were milked, hogs were fed, chickens were turned out and fed, and Granny had breakfast on the table. The men ate a hearty meal of bacon, sausage, eggs, biscuits, gravy, oatmeal, and maybe some stewed fruit which had been canned in the fall. Occasionally, instead of the bacon and sausage they had pork chops or fried chicken.

old farm chores

After this nourishing meal, the men left to carry on with the rest of the day's work. Grandpa went to his forge, and Daddy might walk the fence line to check the wire, or go to the barn to mend harness. If the weather was bad (which it usually was in those long ago winters), Daddy and Grandpa settled themselves in the living room close to a cozy fire. Daddy would read or carve on a block of wood, (he loved to make yo-yos and wooden cars, or maybe a new sling shot). And after cleaning, Granny would join them with some sort of sewing project. When my Aunt Alta was still living, she might sew doll clothes or challenge her brother to a game of marbles after she helped Granny with the meals and cleaning up. The day would pass quietly. They would visit some, amuse themselves, and Grandpa would doze before the fire. Lunch would be a light meal – soup and sandwiches, and dinner might be the same.



granny grandpa and lamp



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