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Posted Monday, December 21, 2009, at 8:35 AM

The sun sticks around a little more each day. Until the summer solstice anyway) For those of us who can sense the lack of sunlight in our lives, today is a big day of the year. The sun looked a little strange this morning coming up through a light frozen fog, but it is now shining through quite nicely.

Some of the naturalists or hunters in our readership will know what I am talking about, but this morning I listened to the daytime inhabitants of the forest waking up. I say daytime because as one group is awakening, the others are going to find a place to sleep.

Many might think the forest is quiet. Remember the old question that if a tree falls and no one is around, does it make a sound? We know the answer to that, but to some the forest is quiet, compared to waking up on the streets of a city, for sure.

Occasionally I heard "man made " things like truck far off, the train, or a plane miles up in the sky, but as daylight came, so did the sounds of little birds, squirrels, crows, Jays, cows waiting impatiently to be fed, the farmers who were feeding them, a Barred owl saying good night to their community and one sound that I could not identify. It happened so quickly and never repeated, so I really started wondering if I had heard it

Barred Owl link: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ei=Ie...

At dusk, it is common to hear dogs barking the "twilight bark" but in the morning they are usually quiet unless something or someone is really bugging them. This morning I heard "things" working the leaves even though they are wet and soft right now. Maybe there were chipmunks, or mice moving about, but definitely not snakes. They must have been close and probably appreciate my feeding the cats, so they are not actively on their "to catch" list.

The light rain that was barely making a sound two days ago was silent, but their seemed to be something to take its place. Like the sometimes loud noise of the bird flocks taking off from their overnight resting place, or when they change direction suddenly. Ever heard that? Oh yes, let me not forget the murmurings of the cats as they interacted with each other around the food trays.

Either way, the knowing it was the Winter Solstice had a way of making it all sound great! Winter Solstice link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winter_sols...

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Speaking of a tree falling in the woods with no one around, I have some pictures I will post of our maple tree that came down this summer. It took down power lines and telephone and according to what the power people told me, the roots had been washed loose.

When I went up there yesterday it became apparent that wind had probably brought it down, since not a root was showing. How did the story get so wrong?

I don't think they actually went up to the trunk to see what had happened. The top had such a good load of leaves, they never saw the base. All they were concerned about was getting the tree off the lines and getting a new line put up.

As it turns out, I could only reach around half of this Maple tree and it was snapped in two. The other unique thing about this tree is that is was completely hollow inside.

In fact, an animal had made it their home long enough that there was about 2.5 feet of leaves, twigs and grass layered inside. I took pictures and will put them on the web soon.

This also gave me an opportunity to discuss cutting that sucker into firewood, since we are down to less than a week at today's burn rate. The first thing was to consider safety, but that is another blog.

-- Posted by stevemills on Mon, Dec 21, 2009, at 9:02 AM

My husband has started the spring countdown and I look forward to gaining about 5 minutes a week of light in the evenings. We are typically outside more than inside, but come winter, we do hibernate!

-- Posted by neighborhood mom on Tue, Dec 22, 2009, at 1:11 PM

The past few years have really given me the blues as the days shortened. This year is a lot better for some reason, but I still look forward to the longer days.

5 minutes a week is too slow. I got to talk with someone!

-- Posted by stevemills on Tue, Dec 22, 2009, at 8:25 PM

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Steve Mills and his wife have one daughter. They previously owned two coffee/ice cream shops, currently operate an internet sales company and teach classes, but his primary job involves the paper industry worldwide. Hobbies and interests lie in gardening, photography, recorded music and of course, their pets.