Winter has surprised us all with a special early visit! The latest snows have caught some of us off guard and sent us hurrying to finish our final preparations for the long cold days ahead. Outside I sense animals too are scrambling to find food and search for water. They move with the greatest of efficiency to save their energy during this cold arduous process. Animals that are dormant or hibernate have responded to the drop in temperatures by now and have snuggled deep down into their dens until spring. 
Bright spots of color can be seen against the white snow. Beautiful red wintergreen , wild rose, and sumac berries plus wild cranberries (which are the same species as the cultivated ones) stand out and are favorite foods for our animal friends. Holly, evergreens and Christmas ferns stay green all through the winter. The Christmas fern can be identified by the shape of its individual pinnae which is shaped like a Christmas stocking!
Take advantage of the dark skies and go out between the 13th and 14th and look for the Peak of the Geminids, one of the best meteor showers of the year. Light a candle on the 21 st of the month and celebrate the Winter Solstice and that from now until June you gain a little more sunlight each day! 

To read more about what’s going during this time of year check out