3 minutes reading time (600 words)

Fog-Induced Yellow Traffic Light

2017 1010 jack hartt

Winter is coming.” That is the motto and subtheme in an exceedingly popular TV show.

Whether you are a frequent viewer or not, it’s quite easy for these words to fall to your thoughts and lips as this season begins to greet us. It’s an even more prevalent motto in the mind of a native

Floridian turned recent transplant like myself. I have started to ask fellow Rangers how to prepare my car in the mornings, plan social gatherings for the months ahead, and even brought my rain pants out of the far reaches of my closet. Winter provides dreary and gray gloom, this we know. But what it represents is something old and familiar to our circadian rhythm, our internal clocks.

Like a flashing yellow streetlight engulfed with fog, winter is that reminder of reduced speeds ahead.

Every life and workspace will vary, but for myself at the Park, winter season has a slower beat. Less field trips to plan for students and teachers who are anxious to greet the outdoors, weekly programming is on pause, and although there is less light in the day, there seem to be more hours to get tasks done. And that, my readers, is what I refer to as that slower internal clock.

No matter your lifestyle or work environment, look for it this winter. Call it optimism or innocence, but I challenge you to look for the moments of “reduced speed ahead” in this winter. Whether its forcing yourself to walk the block after dinner in a drizzle, writing a letter (not a text or email) to an old friend, or taking a 30 second break to glance out your work window. Winter is for the slow methodical beats that calm your heart rate down in order to appreciate and evaluate your surroundings in life.

Before this gets too sentimental for some, I want to bring in a scientific concept to further prove my point. I was reviewing the Interpretive signs that need renovation at the Sand Dunes Interpretive Trail at West Beach, one of a few winter projects planned. The sign pictured has a word that I enjoyed throughout my ecology lab in college, “eutrophication”. To prevent an additional tab brought up on your computer, it relates to the excessive amount of nutrients that pour into a body of water. These exorbitant levels of nutrients stimulate aquatic plant growth into overtime, which only causes the depletion of oxygen levels for the animals, resulting in their death.

The nutrients we look at pouring into our own body, such as stressors, deadlines, and tasks can deteriorate our oxygen levels as well. In fact, our heart, brain, and even muscles are a few aspects of our daily life that rely on the healthy sustenance of oxygen levels. A frequent assessment of the level of nutrients placed on you is a great thing to do, and winter can help provide the time to make that a priority.

There are so many moments throughout the year that require fast paced progress to lead to the dwindling of a proper intake of oxygen. Winter here may be drenched in gloom, discouragement of motivation, and dull colors. But keep your eyes on the flashing yellow light in the distant fog to remind yourself to take it slower.

Summer will be coming, with busier schedules, kids to entertain, or outdoor activities chanting your name. Take stock in deep, oxygenated breaths and see the small joy that sometimes hides from you in winter. Slow paces keep you mindful, a slower mind keeps you grateful.

From Deception Pass Currents, October 2017