Monday, February 10, 2014

Valentine's Day


It's not a great start to the week. It is a grey Monday morning and three more inches of snow have fallen on top of ten. The dogs shudder at the thought of going out. But the bird feeder is empty, so the dogs and I trudge though the soft white piles of driven snow to add sunflower seeds to the feeders.

Back inside, at work on the computer looking outside the window, I am rewarded with a colorful display of hungry red and grey cardinals and black-eyed juncos flitting about the feeder. It makes me happy, as I listen to Lindsey Ray sing "You make me happy." 

[You can be happy and listen to Lindsey Ray by clicking on the link.]

This is the week of Valentine's Day. Valentine's Day arrives this Friday, the 14th. So, what makes your Valentine happy? Is it a box of chocolates, a dozen roses, and a night at the movies? That is a start. 

But caring about someone and making them happy takes more than a wallet or a purse. Caring about someone is a simple thing. It is  sharing what matters in life - a walk in the park, a touch of the hand, a message written in chalk for all the world to see, even a smile on a grey cloudy day. Lindsey Ray suggests that it "a kiss on my cheek, always letting me know I'm the birds and the bees." Not a bad idea on a grey, cold Monday, or any day.

How do the birds stay warm?

If you are like me, then you are wondering how birds stay toasty warm when it is bitter cold. And how about those Mallard ducks and Canadian geese that float on an icy pond? Mon dieu, en hiver, il fait froid.

As Michael Stern reports in Living on Earth, it is because of an adaption called rete mirabile. This adaption, in a nutshell, is a wonderfully complex web of arteries and veins that exchange heat and so keep the warm blood flowing to and from the heart. That and a little feather puffing to insulate the birds from the frigid air.

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