Sunday, December 2, 2012

Things to look for in December

It's been hard to believe it's December with the warm weather we've been having, but the plant and animal world have slowed down on schedule. I'm hoping for a little cold weather to make us appreciate our family trip to Florida -- but not so much that it keeps everyone inside! Here are some of the things we like to look for in the greyer world of winter.

Dark-eyed Junco
Dark-eyed Junco by ehpien
When the cold whether does come, I tend to get grumpy about it. It's good to remind myself of the junco -- who comes down from Canada to enjoy our (relatively) balmy winter. At least we're not in Canada, I say. Plus, they're cute little birds.

squirrel nest in my back yard
Squirrel nest by Heart Windows Art
Meanwhile, the squirrels have built their nests for the winter and are hunkering down. Cute alert: this post includes BBC footage of baby squirrels.

Berry Pretty 3
Holly by Kevin H.
The garlands of greenery went up in my office building last week, just like clockwork. But the tradition of bringing holly inside at this time of year pre-dates Christmas. And there's plenty to celebrate about these berries -- and the birds they attract -- even if you're not decking the halls.

Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides)
Christmas Fern by K.P. McFarland
Christmas ferns were also once used as holiday decorations, for the same reason -- they stay green all winter.

Eastern Hemlock
Hemlock by Mr.Mac2009
While you're out and about enjoying the winter sunshine, try your hand at identifying some trees. It's a lot harder without the leaves! We made a quick guide to ten winter trees that often catch our eye.

Ben's breath
Ben's Breath by nordicshutter
Your breath is often visible around this time of year. Look at it as a measure of temperature and humidity, or enjoy the visible reminder of the breath of all life.

And, for those of you who tend to feel a little house-bound as it gets colder and colder outside, last year we also wrote a Southerner's Guide to Staying Warm Outside in the Winter. Now get out there and explore!