Everyone knows that our Eastern Chipmunk disappears when the cold winter winds blow. Did you ever wonder how a chipmunk’s life could be compared to those of the human race? The chipmunk hibernates during the winter months but it is not a period of continuous inactivity. Things are happening down there; below the frost line.
Our little furry friend builds a burrow system that contains food storage chambers, a bathroom chamber and a sleeping chamber. The entrance to the burrow is plugged with leaves for insulation and camouflage from passing weasels. Life goes on down there in that tiny little apartment throughout the winter. The chipmunk’s body temperature lowers to that of the air temperature in the burrow. Usually this temperature is around 40 degrees and the little mammal begins to take long naps. Unlike the bear which stores body fat for the winter; the chipmunk awakens from time to time to consume calories from its pantry.
The chipmunk has a unique ability to raise its body temperature. Every few days it raises its body temperature to around 94 degrees; gets up, visits the bathroom chamber, snacks and goes back to sleep. If it happens to feel a warm breeze coming through the burrow; it may pop its head out of the burrow entrance and soak up a few rays from the sun. This cycle is repeated over and over throughout the winter months.
By now you are wondering how this applies to humans. I myself have no love of the winter season. I’ve had enough of it by the time the New Year rolls in. There are always those who proclaim their love of winter. They always get me wondering; do they love the frigid temperatures, the icy roads, winds blowing the stinging icy snow pellets sideways, zero visibility, frozen fingers or seeing the antennae on their vehicle grow to the size of a shovel handle; maybe they love the thrill of sliding down the road uncontrollably, just hoping to stop.
No, they love winter; two days after the storm has passed. They love to clear blue skies that follow and the fluffy white snow. They love traveling on the clear dry roads on which over the previous two days workers have risked life and limb to clear for them. They love going to the grocery store and talking about that last storm they endured; while they watched through their picture window.
Yes, they love winter just as the chipmunk loves winter. It isn’t too bad if you’re not out there in it. The little chipmunk doesn’t have to worry about hawks, foxes or house cats or anything else; while locked in the safety of its burrow. Myself; I’m waiting on spring green and am not in any way afflicted with the chipmunk syndrome. Thinking of Spring!