Happy holidays!  With the days officially getting longer and the New Year waiting for us just around the corner, there is a lot to celebrate and look forward to.  Regardless of what you choose to celebrate this time of year, I think it’s safe to say that nature ranks pretty high up there.  For the last week, I spent the holidays in Buffalo, NY with family and was able to witness just how beautiful (and terrifying) nature can be.

A chickadee gets a free lunch

There’s this special place in Buffalo that my wife Carolyn has gone to since she was a kid to feed local birds by hand.  At any moment, you could be up close and personal with a black-capped chickadee, tufted titmouse, or a white-breasted nuthatch.  It’s truly magical and every time we take a trip out east, we make it a priority to visit.  This year was the first time my son was able to experience it and we’re already looking forward to our next visit.

It’s these special connections with nature that make me feel especially thankful.  Public green spaces like this exist all over the place, and you don’t need to feed a bird by hand to experience the wonder.

Shoveling a path to get out of the house mid-blizzard

The day after we visited the chickadee park, Buffalo was hit with one of its worst blizzards recorded (I felt a little extra happy that we fattened up a few of those birds before the storm!)  The blizzard was incredible to watch from the safety of a house, but it was terrifying to see just how powerful nature can be.  There were 30-40mph sustained winds with gusts 70mph+ and near zero visibility.  By the end of the storm, Buffalo had about 43″ of snow with drifts topping over 10′.

Tucker deciding if going out back is worth it or not

As I watched my black lab Tucker leap out of the house and over the snow mound that had piled up against the back door, I immediately thought of the wildlife that were enduring the blizzard outside.  From the voles and mice buried several feet under the snow to the great-horned owls hunkered down in a cavity of a tree, it’s amazing to think about how well-adapted our local critters are to the environment.

Seeing what sort of conditions they have to deal with reminded me of how lucky I am to work for an organization that protects local habitat for wildlife.  They have a difficult enough time surviving out there.  Protecting land for them is the least we can do!

What 10 minutes in a blizzard looks like

We were lucky enough to have power throughout the entire blizzard and only suffered sore backs from endless shoveling.  All in all, it was a pretty great trip that helped me realize there’s a lot to be thankful for.

While you’re celebrating the holidays and ringing in the New Year, don’t forget to keep nature in mind.  Get outside, breathe in the fresh air, and think about all of the possibilities that the New Year will bring.  Cheers!

*Did you miss an article?  Check out my collection of past monthly Nature Now articles on our website HERE.  Just click the dropdown menu ‘Any Type of News’ and change to ‘Nature Now’ to filter the articles.

See you next month!