“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, "Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass
One moment you're saying, 'I wonder if we're going have an Indian Summer!', the next it's, 'don't answer the door, they're trick-or-treaters', and then before you know it a pale sun is low on the horizon and winter's icy grip has taken the land: dormant trees knock against one another in a moaning northerly wind, the grass - having lost its joie de vivre - exposes the soil, as twigs lie lifeless in the dirt waiting for the passage of time to merge with the earth.
Like us humans, during the winter most animals have to carry on regardless, but as we know some fortunate critters get to sleep right through this period of seasonal dormancy. In Britain tortoiseshell butterflies find refuge in our sheds and garages, and our precious prickly hedgehogs bury themselves in leaves, twigs, and soil, ready for hibernation. Across the pond in Northern Europe, away from the benefits of the gulf stream, you will find a true winter, (where trains still run, regardless whether it's 'the right or wrong type of snow'). There in the mountains and ancient forests the mighty Eurasian brown bear winds down for its wintery slumber, but does this animal truly hibernate?
Well, the answer isn't as straight forward as you may have once thought. Although bears do enter a state of 'winter lethargy', (don't we all!), and usually sleep throughout the season, for an animal to enter a state of 'true hibernation' they need to be able to bring their body temperature down to 5° C or below, where a bear can only reach a low of 33° C. Also, due to their size a bear isn't able to store enough fat to support themselves throughout a period of true hibernation, and so can end up breaking down muscle and organ tissue to supply necessary proteins; which they can amazingly restore once back up and running. Plus, the females who are bearing their cubs during the winter months have to awake relatively quickly to give birth, but she can then happily fall back to sleep whilst nursing the cubs.
We may sometimes wish that we could join the likes of the bear, bats, and bumblebees of the world in a deep wintery sleep, but if you catch this season on one of its rarer frosty but clear days, you'll see a winter as beautiful as it is harsh, a world glistening head-to-toe with crystals, and magically lit in a brilliant light which transcends reality into the realm of fantasy and fairytales.
The DM Christmas Collection has transported our favourite creatures to that land. The snow falling down against a bright blue sky balances the white-covered woodland that inhabits them, with touches of pink snowflakes or the vibrant green flashes of magical mistletoe. What a wonderful world!
Explore the DM Christmas Collection of greetings cards.
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In the year 1500 BC, the Israelites who had settled in Egypt had significantly grown in numbers. So much so that the Pharaoh at the time grew fearful of them: paranoid that they would eventually take over. Forgetting that it was actually an Israelite by the name of Joseph - yes, the guy with the groovy coat - who had guided the Egyptian people away from famine a few hundred years earlier, the Pharaoh made all the Israelites slaves. Things then took a most heinous turn when the Pharaoh ordered the midwives to drown all male Hebrew babies at birth.
How do you defeat those pesky Romans: with a broadsword, a throwing spear, a battle horse? All of those sound like they could be very useful, but what you really need in your arsenal is a Hare. Just ask Queen Boudica - and if anyone should know it would be this red hared heroine, who impressively managed to defeat the all conquering Romans in three separate battles.