Thursday, August 15, 2013

Hello, Bear -- Day 2/215

Walk: Marin Hike, Fillmore Street
Distance: 9 miles, 2 miles

In my latest CIWTs I've been a bit facetious about hibernating.  Actually I've mostly been engaged in that winter approaching activity of transforming my closet from brights to warmer thicker softer colors and fabrics.  AKA winter clothes, or as Polar bears might have it, winter coat.  On the way home from warm clothes forays, I've also been stopping at a local bakery where they put out good size samples of their wares for customers to test.

The samples vary but are usually some sort of tart, cake, eclair.  The bakery is French and all their products are made with pure butter (absolument!) and tres generous amounts of sugar. The samples are also always available on the top of the counter, year round. But knowing their ingredients and guessing at their probable calorie count, I usually have no problem walking right by.

But not so for ciwt  as the light in the sky begins to darken and the days shorten.  Bakeries are entered, ice cream is bought and brought home, chocolate too.  I can almost set my watch by this change.  It was much more dramatic growing up in colder climates.  For approximately three weeks, somewhere around the end of August to about mid-September I went from 'no thank you' on most foods to non-stop eating of just about any carb I could get my hands on.

And all this I would submit is related to ciwt's version of hibernation.  Attraction to warm clothes, comforting fabrics, richer foods.  My body is padding itself.  Next comes earlier to bed, deeper sleep, more difficulty waking up. Ie, a sort of subtle torpor sets in.  And, unfortunately, around late November (perhaps earlier) so does SAD - for which our lovely Bay Area light is a godsend, but not quite enough to do the entire trick.

So, yes, not facetiously hibernation is slowly making its atavistic, protective adaptations to keep ciwt safe, warm and alive for the winter.  Interesting to encounter the animal that lives within.

Speaking of hibernation and, one of ciwt's favorite topics, hair, did you know the Polar bear, like many Arctic mammals, has white fur made of hollow hairs, which trap and warm air?  Ultra-violet light is funneled from the sun down the hairs to the bear's black skin heating it along the way. They also have a layer of stored fat under the skin which gives additional insulation so they can survive the Arctic cold.  This even without French Bakeries!

polar bear


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