So it is winter

It’s official. It begins December 21 here, unlike Australia, where the season begins on the first day of the month and six months later (or earlier). Happy holidays and winter solstice.
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There’s a nor’easter headed our way and we may get about a foot of snow. I’m excited because I’m going to ski the old logging roads on our property. Last year I was in a cast and the year before I spent the Australian summer on Deal Island.

I was surprised to find this little guy on our basement stairs yesterday.

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He rivals Punxsutawney Phil in weather folklore. It’s a Banded Woolly Bear, an arctic caterpillar, and the thickness of its middle stripe is rumored to predict winter’s severity. Thick is mild. What’s remarkable is it freezes solid during the winter. It may spend up to 14 years, freezing and defrosting, before it becomes a moth.

It may be frozen now because the temperature is finally seasonally cold and this morning I found it curled into a ball.

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It produces a “cryoprotectant” to preserve its tissues after its heart stops beating and its blood freezes solid! Impressive. It has a sad life cycle though. Years as a caterpillar, freezing over the winter, and when it’s finally eaten its fill, it emerges as a moth and then only lives a few days to find its mate before it dies.

Groundhogs have it easy.

One thought on “So it is winter

  1. Pingback: The wooly bear woke up « Island and North Country Life

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