Hibernation is a strange thing, and as I observe nature more and more I realize what a tremendously complex, unfathomable phenomenon it is in its entirety.  You can’t begin to understand nature, and wild things, in any kind of totalness.  It is beyond the greatest mind, the most devoted student.

Hibernation is a strange thing, and as I observe nature more and more I realize what a tremendously complex, unfathomable phenomenon it is in its entirety.  You can’t begin to understand nature, and wild things, in any kind of totalness.  It is beyond the greatest mind, the most devoted student.

For instance, the little tree frogs which live all around us go into hibernation early, and they begin to come out in mid-to late-February in our southern Missouri Ozarks.  There is no way to know how many of those thousands of little amphibians do not survive a really hard cold stretch of winter. It has to be that some do not.  But the species survival is somehow ensured because hibernation works.

I know where there is one little tree frog that is doing quite well, living in a big hanging flower pot in my Uncle Norten’s home.  The pot holds a vine, and halfway down there is one of those portals in the side where you have an opening jutting out.  He comes out of the soil, apparently, on occasion and looks out of that little portal. Norten says he can be heard singing from his winter retreat on mornings at times when my uncle comes in before dawn and turns on the TV to watch the morning news.  And I have seen him a couple of times, one of those little tree frogs that can change color according to what he is sitting on.

Because he is inside, apparently he has no inclination to truly hibernate.  My aunt waters the plant so the soil he is in remains moist, but what is he eating?    My uncle says when the tree frogs start making music, the ones we call “spring peepers” he will take him outside and release him back into the natural habitat.  He will surely be pleased to be with his own kind again, since in the spring it is unlikely he will want to be alone, if he is a he.  If he is a she, she might like the idea of hibernating a little longer!!! 

But how that little peeper got inside that hanging pot, no one will ever know.  And how he can survive an entire winter there amazes me.   Without hibernating, he has to eat something on occasion.  If my aunt gets the idea he has found any insects to eat in her house, he may be outside early, and Uncle Norten may go with him.  The only answer to a tree frog in the house, and a few bugs as well has to be something my uncle did last fall, like bringing in a bait bucket, or something of that sort.

Now January is nearly behind us, and February is about here.  Our new Lightnin’ Ridge Magazine has a beautiful cover painting of a pair of gobblers, one strutting, with a little hint of melting snow in the foreground.  It is indeed what happens, those old gobblers feel spring coming a lot earlier than we do.  We heard one gobbling out in the woods while we were rabbit hunting last week.
 February, the month that Colonel Calhoun Hedgerow refers to as “more worthless than Texas”, can be rough, and then again, it can be a great fishing month. Walleye fishing, and trout fishing and striper fishing, will get some attention in this column in coming weeks.    Colonel Hedgerow doesn’t fish much, and he hates February.  He wants to get Valentines Day abolished, which most men our age would be in favor of.  I hope somehow you get to read his column in our February-March magazine, which is coming out this week.

Anyways, (as they use to say in the pool hall) January is about history, and I foresee a week or two of cold weather, then February warming a bit.  That’s why I am going to schedule our first trip to the wilderness area I have been writing about on Truman Lake.  We will go, if the weather is indeed good, on February 6th, and take a dozen hikers with us.   If you want to go on one of those trips, just e-mail Sondra Gray at lightninridge2@yahoo.com.  If you don’t have an e-mailer, just write a regular letter to her at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613.   The best thing about that trip is the eagles, and the fish fry, and Uncle Norten’s stories.

Many of you attended our big old-time outdoorsman’ swap meet last September at the country church here near Bolivar.  I know there were many more of you who wanted to come, but couldn’t get there for one reason or another.  Well, instead of waiting until next September we have decided to have another one in March to celebrate the coming of spring, to put an end to cabin fever, and just have a good time.  This time we are going to hold it in the Nixa Community Center Gymnasium, on Saturday March the 6th.  There will be forty-five 8-foot tables available on a first come basis.  To pay for the use of the gym, each table will be $10.00, and that will go to the Nixa Community Center.   In addition, we will set aside an area of benches and seats where hunters and fishermen can sit down and rest and tell hunting and fishing stories.

Mostly, folks will be bringing and selling fishing gear, antique lures, some hunting and camping gear, even some boats and motors outside... the same type of thing we had last fall.  So if you want to reserve a table you need to contact me, as this whole thing is being put on by our Lightnin’ Ridge Outdoor Magazine.  When we reach 45 reserved tables we have to stop there, so don’t fiddle around, let me know you want one.  

For those of you who just want to bring one or two items to sell, we will fix up a table for that also.  And of course, most who come will be looking for bargains.  Last fall, there were plenty of those, bargains, all kinds of antique outdoor gear and lots of new stuff as well.  I will let you know later about some of the people coming and what they are bringing.

I use to make turkey calls at those spring swap meets, and it got to where I couldn’t make them fast enough, so this year I am going to make some of them in advance, and bring a couple of dozen. If you want one of my signed and numbered hand-made cedar-box turkey calls which have now been outlawed in some southern states because they are deemed unfair to turkeys, this will be the place to get them.

 I am hoping Ms. Wiggins, my executive secretary can come this year.  I have always felt these Grizzled Old Outdoorsman’s Swap-meet events would be a good place for her to get a husband.  She thought she had a prospect in that one fellow she met a few years back, but they kept catching him and sending him back to Mexico.

That acronym for our Grizzled Old Outdoorsman’s  Swap-meet Event is G.O.O.S.E.   I thought that was kind of catchy.   I would like to have something like that to use in case this becomes a well-known national happening.  But please put it down on your calendar, so you can be there.  Nixa is a fairly good central location for everyone in the Ozarks.
See my website www.larrydablemontoutdoors.blogspot.com for details on all of our upcoming events, and see that beautiful painting of the magazine cover as well.