Nature Notes Winter 2011-2012

Greg Armstrong Nature Notes Leave a Comment

Winter at Holy Wisdom Monastery

Winter at Holy Wisdom Monastery

The sun sets very early in the evening and rises late in the morning during the winter season. At the winter solstice or the beginning of winter in late December the days are the shortest they will be all year, and will get longer and longer until they are the longest at the summer solstice in late June. The main reason for this change in the length of the day and the change in temperature is because the earth tilts 23 degrees in relationship to the sun between the summer solstice and the winter solstice. Since we are in the northern hemisphere and our part of the world is tilted away from the sun in the winter, the rays of the sun are reaching us at an oblique angle and are also passing through more of the earth’s surface atmosphere before they reach and warm us. The birds and rabbits and plants don’t know that we have tilted away from the sun, but they have through the grace of God evolved strategies for dealing with this darker, colder and often drier time of year. The sophistication and wonderfully clever ways in which these creatures have adapted to this seasonal change are in my opinion true miracles of life.

What a wonder it is to behold how some birds know when it is time to fly south, and how to find their way to a place that is hundreds or even thousands of miles away that will sustain them during the winter with food and a suitable place to live.

It is no less miraculous that a big blue stem grass on the prairie manages to send its food supply down into its root system in the fall, to form buds at the soil surface and make them hardy enough to survive the cold and dry (the water is frozen and unavailable) of winter. In addition, seeds that were produced by the big blue stem grass last season are dormant and waiting out this inclement time, until the time is right for them to send up a little baby plant. These seeds are not fooled by a warm spell in mid winter either. Wow! This stuff is just amazing.

All of this wonder can be observed at the Holy Wisdom Monastery. Admittedly you may have to have someone trained in appropriate scientific technique in order to really see some of these things, but it makes it no less wonderful. One of the great things about Holy Wisdom Monastery is that the sisters, living out the Rule of Benedict as best they can, came up with the idea to restore many of the ecological communities and systems as a way of respecting creation and the Creator. The sisters invite you to visit Holy Wisdom Monastery, and to marvel with them over the beauty of nature and what God has wrought on this small piece of the earth. It is beautiful to behold even when it is cold outside.

Visit our Nature Trail page of this website to learn about hiking the land at Holy Wisdom Monastery.

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