The Hibernation of Johnny Scott

The January slump. The New Year’s drought. When the holidays are over and you’re full of chocolate and short on cash. There’s nothing going on and there’s nothing to do but snooze. You’ve sold online all the gifts you didn’t really want. You’ve been partying for about two weeks straight, and you’ve seen all the good movies that came out at Christmas. You’re a forgotten galleon in the snowy doldrums of post-festive opulence, with no wind to take your sails in any direction, and nothing to set focus on but a lingering chorus of ‘Auld Lang Syne’.

It’s a disconcerting time: after the bustle and feasting of the past few weeks, a sudden grinding halt. But it’s one that you should welcome and embrace. Don’t feel guilty about lounging around in your underpants and that little extra bit of stuffing around the midsection you put on. Let the resolutions dissolve as you nap the days away. Sure, you could be hitting the gym or learning to play the cornet or something, but that’s not natural. Embrace your part in the wide Kingdom of Animals by participating in the ancient and sacred practice of hibernation. After all, we’re all of us just animals too.

What does the mighty bear dream of when he is buried away, slumbering in his secret den-fortress? Of salmon, fat as the haunch of an elk, leaping from a river of sparkling honey right into his waiting jaws. The dead-of-winter chill means nothing to him as he contentedly snores through the year’s coldest days. His magazine subscriptions pile by the den’s entrance, and he’ll miss the two-week Spanish cooking class his parents-in-law gave him for Christmas, but he will not once feel the sinister bite of a frosty wind chill. He will never suffer the indignity of a sore back from hunching over in a vain attempt to stay warm. To put it all a bit more concisely: This beast has got shit figured out.

Sure, there are other animals out there who brave the cold all winter, but they are the remedial class of Animalia. Deer that dig for leaves in the snow like chumps, who are so dawdle-brained that their defining characteristic is that they’re exceptionally adept at being hit by cars. Mindless, chirping little sparrows and nuthaches who are too dumb and poor to migrate south for the winter, and rely on handouts from the bird feeder missions we have set up for them all over our cities. These are not the sterling specimens of the animal world that we should be looking toward for example.

Not like the seemingly innocuous and trifling frog. These amphibious little underdogs are misunderstood and underestimated at every turn. After squeezing themselves deeply and tightly into impossible crevices, their heart stops beating and they literally stop breathing. These are some stone cold mother-flippers. Then, when spring comes, they rise from the dead like Lazarus from the grave. But they don’t need no Jesus-frog. Because, as if this all wasn’t badass enough, their bodies make a natural anti-freeze. They slide from their cave and, like a spotted-green James Brown, throw off their robe and burst forth in slow-motion while Pharoahe Monch’s ‘Simon Says’ blasts from the bowels of the earth. (This is all natural fact, as far as I know.)

“How can I do this? I have a job and responsibilities,” you may be asking. Well, so do frogs and bears and skunks and badgers. But they’ve got it worked out. The trick is to prepare for it well in advance. Make sure you’ve got a freezer full of salmon and hash browns. Grow out all your body hair for a couple months in anticipation. Divert your mail to a friend or your church/synagogue. Sell all your gold for cash at any number of convenient locations. And, most importantly, make sure you have a lot of drugs. A lot. I only hazed out of this morphine-induced, days-long nap for long enough to write this article. I’m not even sure if frogs are a real thing, or something my opiate-addled mind just conjured from the muck. Either way, I’m sure my advice is still valid.

* Photo by world of jan via Flickr. 


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