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January, 2021
Winter's upon us, and I'm glad for it. It's recently become my favorite time of year, but I suspect I'm romanticizing it. I dream of snow, the beauty and the silence of it. But it seldom snows here. I suspect if it did, I might not like it so much!
 The Arctic Fox in all his Glory
My first venture into sculpture was with polymer clay. I enjoyed making small animals and then incorporating them in jewelry. And, of course, collecting all those beautiful beads was a plus. This little necklace - a fairly simple one as my creations go - is one of my favorites. The fox is the best part, but the beads are special too: white topaz drops, carved quartz leaves, moonstone, clear glass seed beads, and white quartz. There aren't many opportunities to wear these pieces, especially nowadays, but I wear them when I can.

But enough about jewelry. What about the fox? These small foxes are truly remarkable animals, surviving in some of the harshest climates on our planet in the arctic and tundra regions of the northern hemisphere, among the harshest climates on the planet. They endure temperatures up to 160 degrees F lower than their body temperature, and that takes remarkable adaptations and behaviors. To reduce heat loss, their ears and muzzles are shorter and their bodies rounder than other foxes'. They have a thick, multi-layered coat and an especially luxurious tail which they wrap around them to cover their faces when they sleep. They are the only canids with fur on the bottoms of their paws. They build their dens with the entrances facing south, a choice that provides the most warmth.

Like the snowshoe rabbit, their coats change color throughout the year to provide camoflage: white in the winter and brownish gray in the summer. This helps both in hunting and in escaping predation themselves.

They are remarkable in many ways, but to me, their most amazing feature is that irresistably cute face!
Sub What?.
As I was contemplating which animals to include in this second newsletter focusing on the animals of winter, I wondered about mice. Why? I don’t particularly associate them with winter or the snow. But I found myself questioning how these tiny animals live underneath the snow, especially where once the snow falls it only continues to deepen until the spring thaw.

It turns out they get along quite well by living in what’s called the ‘subnivean’ zone. That word comes from two Latin ones: ‘sub’ for beneath, and ‘nives’ for snow. In other words, the mice and other tiny creatures live in a zone beneath the snow.

When the snow first falls, it’s held up a little by vegetation and debris on the ground. Air is trapped in this space. Then the earth warms the bottom layer of snow, sublimating it from ice crystals to water vapor. The water vapor travels upwards through the snow layer and as it does so, transforms the lower surface of the snow into ice with acts as a roof and further insulates the subnivean zone.

Mice and other small animals live in this zone, digging tunnels, building sleeping and storage chambers, and happily eating berries, roots, bark, and other goodies trapped under the snow. A few tunnels reach all the way to the surface, providing fresh air and an escape for carbon dioxide. The subnivean zone is a humid climate which remains at a near constant temperature around 32⁰F.

Who knew? You do!

 
The aptly-named Showshoe Hare
The beautiful snowshoe hare (Lepus Americanus) is a species of hare found in the northern areas of North America. It lives in boreal (frigid temperatures year round) and northern montane (mountain side) forests, preferring areas with thick undergrowth. Their common name comes from their large hind feet which act as showshoes, preventing the animal from sinking in thick snow. They have fur on the soles of their feet to keep them from freezing on ice and snow.

The snowshoe hare is also called the varying hare because its coat changes from cinnamon brown in the summer to white in the winter, providing an effective camouflage. It’s also called the showshoe rabbit, but this name is misleading as hares and rabbits are different species.

I tried to find the spiritual or mystic significance of snowhoe hares, but was unsuccessful. I found quite a bit about hares and rabbits in general or, often, confused with one another. Despite the allure of traditional meanings of animals, though, I think maybe the most important significance is the one we ourselves develop. For me, the most outstanding quality of this animal is its obvious adaptations to its habitat. So for me, the snowshoe hare symbolizes the natural protection God gives us.
 
It's never too early to start shopping for next Christmas!
A Milkweed Christmas is here and waiting to make you smile!
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My latest illustrated book, A Milkweed Christmas - The Inn at Ivy Knoll is ready to make you smile. It's available in paperback on Amazon, here. It's also available in hardback as well as paperback on Lulu.com here. Signed copies are available in my Etsy shop here, though my monthly discount coupon doesn't apply, as I'd be selling them at a loss. Here's the description and, below, a short video featuring some of the illustrations.

A beautifully illustrated and sweetly told account of the Milkweed animal community's observance of that most blessed holiday, Christmas. This year, the hares of the Inn at Ivy Knoll are hosting festivities on the big day, but that's just part of the story. There's much more! The animals, as they do every year, have filled the whole season with fond memories, special traditions, baking, celebration, and, more than anything else, love..
Book trailer: A Milkweed Christmas - the Inn at Ivy Knoll
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January Coupon

I'm offering you, my precious subscribers, a 15% discount in my Etsy shop, TheFoxesGarden. Any sales from the Bear section will go to Idaho Black Bear Rehab. Everything in the shop is hand made by me.  From January 3 to 17, just use discount code JANUARY15 at checkout.  I ship the day after I receive your order, and domestic shipping is free.  Click on the image of the barn owl to visit my shop! (By the way, the only items that are not discounted are my books Tales of Love and Courage from Milkweed Manor and A Milkweed Christmas - The Inn at Ivy Knoll. If I discounted them, I'd be selling at a loss.)
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A New Years' Message
Many people enjoy choosing a word for the New Year - a concept that will be special to them throughout the year. I tried, but chose three and didn't want to drop any of them. So, I have three words - I prefer to think of them as practices, to guide me this year. 'Gratire,' 'Equanimity,' and 'Faith,' - three practices for spiritual and emotional shelter and health. Here's the art journal spread which I completed on December 31. I hope you enjoy it.
Little Paige is ready to star in the festivities while her anxious mom wait nearby. This is just part of one of the many heartwarming activities the Milkweed animals celebrate each Christmas.
Next time?
More Wintry Animals!
Do you have friends who you think would enjoy this newsletter?  Just have them e-mail me at kspoole@hughes.net and I'll sign them up for studio news, Etsy shop discounts, and free downloadable art!
Glad you're here!
Comment?  Suggestions?  Just want to chat?  I'd love to hear from you.
e-mail me at kspoole@hughes.net
or visit me on facebook - Kaaren Poole
Copyright © 2021 Kaaren Poole, All rights reserved.


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