Michelle Teheux wants to know this: If animals can hibernate, why can't humans?
Bears do it.
So do gophers, frogs, badgers and woodchucks.
So why can’t humans also hibernate winter away?
Actually, via intensive scientific research (thanks, Google!) I now know that not all animals are true hibernators that slow down their heartbeat and drop their body temperature for months at a time. Some merely sleep for long periods and wake once in a while to eat and drink a little something.
That’s more what I’ve got in mind.
Who doesn’t like the idea of escaping this freezing weather by burrowing under the covers and setting their alarm for about mid-April?
I don’t have the proper kind of burrow, but then, it turns out not all hibernating animals prefer the same winter accommodations. Some just use hollow logs or some kind of den.
I figure the human hibernator equivalent is a good mattress with a down comforter and maybe an electric blanket.
Chipmunks have the right idea. They keep a lot of snacks (mostly nuts, in their case) near their nests, so they can wake up every so often and munch a bit.
What human hibernator wouldn’t like to spend long stretches curled up in a warm bed, occasionally waking up and grabbing a snack off the bedside table?
For human hibernators, I’d recommend keeping something chocolate nearby. A bottle of Jack Daniel's wouldn’t come amiss, either. It’ll help you sleep late, or at least want to.
Most hibernating animals beef up to prepare for the winter. Bears are notorious for putting on a nice layer of fat for the winter. Quite a few of us human would-be hibernators have already made similar preparations.
I want to sleep away the rest of this winter simply because it is the worst winter I can remember, not counting my childhood winters in the 1970s.
Those winters featured enough snow for elaborate snowmen in the front yard, snow forts in the back yard and enough snow left over for an arsenal of snowballs to fling at the enemy snow fort commanded by my cousins.
Since I didn’t have to worry about driving, picking my way over treacherous sheets of ice while wearing dress shoes or paying the power bill, those winters were OK with me. Sometimes they even brought days off school, which could be filled with building ever-bigger snow forts made to withstand snowball fights with my cousins, followed by hot chocolate all around.
But while I could appreciate a nice blizzard as a child, as an adult I’ve lost all desire to deal with this kind of winter, which professional climatologists technically classify as “sucky.”
When the temperature has briefly warmed up this winter, it’s done so just long enough to melt the ice and snow into slush, which then refreezes into new shapes on the sidewalk, the better to trip you.
I keep thinking this winter will give us a break any time, but the extended forecast always contains more bad news. It feels as if it will go on forever.
I read Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road,” about a nuclear winter, and envied the characters.
A trip to somewhere tropical would be great, but just nodding off and waiting out spring is cheaper.
Wake me up in about two months. And look out, the bears and I will be hungry.
Michelle Teheux may be reached at (309) 346-1111, ext. 661, or at email@example.com