Week of December 18, 2022 – December 24, 2022
by Sunny Guyette, Environmental Educator
I used to dread winters, I really do not like being cold. But that apprehensiveness to accept winter changed when I had to go outside for two hours everyday for my Environmental Science class in High School. I realized that if I lived in an area where it was always warm, then I wouldn’t appreciate being warm as much as I can when I know what it feels like to be cold. I also realized that snow makes the cold a lot more tolerable and also makes it easier for me to appreciate the winter! From the beautifully crafted snow crystals piled together, to the stillness and quietness the snow brings, to being able to perform various outdoor winter activities, the snow is a lovely process that I have come to accept. But recently, I have become curious about the ecological purpose of snow.
As I was learning our 2nd grade Nature In The City lesson on the “Science of Snow” I thought to myself, so we know why snow happens, but does it have a purpose? It does! Blankets of snow act as protection for understory plants, shrubs, and small mammals as well. For the plants, snow acts as an insulator for the roots and soil beneath it. If we didn’t get any snow and the temperatures were cold, then the roots of plants would be damaged from lack of moisture and warmth. For the small mammals, snow allows them to stay hidden from predators while finding food and shelter through creating tunnels in the snow. The snow also helps some seeds germinate! Most native woodland seeds need to be soft in order to germinate. The snow helps soften the seeds when they are laying on the ground, allowing it to sprout by spring. Not to mention that when springtime comes, the snowmelt replenishes all of the lakes and rivers.
After researching the many benefits of snow, I am now even more grateful for winter and the snow! And if you read my last naturalist blog you can recall that in order to be thankful for one thing, we need to recognize everything else connected to it. With that being said, I am not only thankful for the snow, but I am now thankful for and embrace the cold winter weather!