Christine's All-Weather Field Notes: 1/6/15
Wednesday, January 07, 2015 7:30 AM
Time is on my mind as winter deepens and the days grow slightly longer. Most of the time we are as busy as the chipmunks who live in my stone wall. In fall, they collect sunflower seeds from the feeder and acorns from the abundant oak trees non-stop, stashing their booty in a tunnel that runs twenty feet from the stone wall to the flower bed. If the winter larder is full, they hole up and chow down, occasionally popping up like periscopes from the top of a snow bank to look around. Is it spring, yet? No? Never mind, then. Time for a snack.
If crops are lean, they'll curl up and sleep in for long months in their snug dens. Do they dream? Scientists at MIT found that, most likely, they do. Researchers measured activity in the brain's memory center, the hippocampus, and in the visual cortex as rats ran through a maze with different designs. They found that the rats replayed those same patterns as they slept, apparently reliving the journey in dreams and reinforcing it in memory, though they are unsure if rats have the same kinds of full images we see in dreams.
Curled up in warm fur and dreaming sounds like a fine way to spend last night, when the mercury dipped to 4 degrees. Time still passing, the earth still spinning on its tilted axis, the northern hemisphere 95 million cold miles from the sun, but lost in a timeless dream of romping along a stone wall in June.
Christine Parrish is expecting the pond will freeze so she can go out to Camp Solitude on the island for an overnight stay.