We finally had our first real snow of several inches the other day that brought with it temperatures that plummeted to zero with wind chills of -5! I was glad I didn't have to go out in it and felt badly for the children who had to stand on school bus stops and the folks out there cleaning the snow off their cars, heaters running, so they could start their slippery trip to work. If ever I was grateful to be retired from a 9 to 5 job, this would be one of those times.
As I was looking out of the window at the gently falling snow, I noticed tiny footprints on the roof across the way. Sure enough, my buddy Gus the squirrel had already been out in the brutal cold in search of the morning meal. At that moment a flash of grey and brown came barreling over the top of the roof and down the side, carrying a huge chestnut in his mouth. His sweetie was sitting in the opening to their home, shivering in the cold as she waited for his return. Together they scrambled inside to get out of the cold and enjoy their breakfast.
Watching them got me to wondering whether animals complained about the weather like humans do. Did Gus wake up this morning and think: "Oh, no! It's zero degrees out there and snow everywhere. Now I'm going to have to freeze my tail off going out there to get food. Why couldn't we have been born in Florida?" Somehow I don't think so. I think that animals, like trees, take the seasons as they come, rely on their God-given instincts for survival, and live their lives. They embrace who they are.
Dogs are another great example of this. I don't know of another species that enjoys being who they are more than dogs. They are, for the most part, playful, happy, and always grateful. They get excited over their food, their treats, their toys and even their tails (which seem to provide hours of entertainment as they chase them). They never ask themselves: "Why wasn't I born a duck? Or a bird? This tail-chasing thing gets pretty old after a while." They embrace their doggie-hood.
I will admit that I am not a huge fan of this kind of brutal cold, but I can't imagine living anywhere else. There are some good points about the cold. It refreshes and invigorates us. It allows us to see the progression of the seasons and the new growth to come. It provides us with a time to hibernate and dream. Most of all, it allows us to appreciate warm and cozy instead of taking it for granted. How much better does that hot cup of cocoa and warm blanket feel after coming in from the cold? I'll bet old Gus and his lady were more than grateful for being able to come in out of the cold and enjoy their food. Embracing who we are means that we embrace the world around us as well, finding things to be grateful for instead of complaining. How much brighter and joyful our lives would be if we could all learn to do that!
And so it is.