Submitted by Susanne Bacon.
The Holidays are over. January has sneaked in on us with snow and ice. At one point, Western Washington was totally cut off from the outside world (except the seaports) because pretty much all SeaTac flights were cancelled, the mountain passes were closed, and a 20-mile-stretch of I-5 south of Chehalis was flooded. The latter has been reopened. But supermarkets show the impact that a period of snowfall has on our state in the Pacific Northwest. Almost every year. The shelves are half-empty or empty.
To be honest, I don’t mind it much. Sure, it’s a little disturbing when you figure that your giant supermarket sports just a few shallots, whereas usually you have a choice between piles of at least four different kinds of onions. That the meat department is pretty much ransacked. That toilet paper (again!) seems to be an article that people must be storing in abundance. But I have found a good supply rhythm for my household, and it doesn’t take me by surprise anymore. Perhaps because I am in what I call hibernation mode.
Hibernation, thus a definition from Wikipedia, is “a state of minimal activity and metabolic depression”. In other words: of doing nothing and not losing weight. At least I can’t say that the latter were true for me currently. The former, alas, is pretty close to the truth. I’m doing what’s necessary around the home, not more. And I’m writing a little on a daily basis. Not as much as when I’m really, really in the mood. But I keep it a habit. Progress is made.
I wonder whether hibernation is a mode that was meant for humans. We all know about groundhogs, for sure. And the bears and marmots in the Cascades. Pikas, on the other hand, are pretty active all winter. And if you look outside, you will see all our local birds, squirrels, and deer haunt the backyards for food.
I guess my hibernation is an artificially created state. I have somehow been building up towards the November/December holidays with lots of anticipation, loving (though not exuberant) preparations, celebrated in emotional abundance – and now that balloon of inner (and outer) festivity is tired out. Like a helium balloon that can float underneath the ceiling for only so long and then, very gradually, sinks down, still tries its best at times to keep its shape and remind us of its former glory, but finally slumps to the ground. Done. And fair enough.
I think it’s a normal circle in nature – the sprouting, growing, maturing, harvesting, then resting. Our holidays are just so closely linked to it that we don’t realize that we are late in the season when we do the “harvesting”. And that we put so much into it that we simply have to feel tired and sometimes listless afterwards. Think of the marmots in the Cascades. They watch us hike till late in October while they are lying lazily in the mountain meadows or are busy building a tunnel to a new underground home. While we are still busy with outdoor activities, then start huge celebrations inside, they are huddling in the warmth, sleeping. Right now. As we are trying to boost ourselves with New Year’s resolutions and energy diets, they are … just sleeping.
Maybe, it’s okay if we just throttle down a little, too. The weather is unfriendly as I’m writing this. It’s pouring. Why even contemplate a walk? It’s dark, and everything has to be done by artificial light – why not defer it until there is better light all around? Why try and bake a cake when you want to lose weight anyhow? Who is pressurizing me other than I myself?
Hibernation is actually a pretty cool state of mind, come to think of it. Let yourself go with the flow of nature. If your body tells you to rest, do so. If you are not up to making big plans for the year – there are 11.5 months more to do so. Let’s be gentle with ourselves. Gentleness never does harm.