Letter from The Publisher
One recent winter evening, I was working at my desk when a very distinctive sound caught my attention. I stopped, listened, went back to work—and there it was again, a loud “Hoo-hoo-hooo hoo-hooo.” My spirit jumped and I smiled. There was no mistaking that a great horned owl was nearby, and as the call came from outside of the house at a level slightly louder than the music selection playing in the background, it was undoubtrfly in one of the nearby oak trees. I hurried to the door and stepped outside to listen. A second great horned owl was calling back from a tree elsewhere on the block, and the conversation continued for several minutes. Over the holidays, I’d heard a few owl back-and-forths in the wee hours, but these two were conversing in primetime. (Check out some great horned owl calls and videos at AllAboutBirds.org/guide/Great_Horned_Owl/sounds.)
February is nesting time for owls, and several species either overwinter or pass through the Chicago area. This month, writer Sheryl DeVore tells us about these unique birds in her feature article Mystical Owls: Denizens of the Night Add Wonder to Winter. Reading about them inspires me—and I hope you, as well—to learn more about the wide variety of wildlife present in the city and suburbs at this time of year; which leads me to my second point.
We’ve devoted much of this February issue of Natural Awakenings Chicago to our heart health, offering tips, ideas and recipes for maintaining a healthy and strong heart. Our main feature focuses specifically on women’s heart health and some choices we can make to keep our hearts strong with lifestyle and dietary approaches. In the article, writer Lisa Marshall states that 44 million U.S. women have some form of cardiovascular disease, which is now the number one killer of women, according to the American Heart Association.
This brings me back to owls, a part of the many wonders of nature we find all around us, even in the dead of winter. There’s still so much of the natural world to be discovered this time of year, be it a magnolia bud tightly closed against the snow, green shoots of early spring bulbs under the leaves and snow, a beautiful sunrise or sunset, the crunch of powder under cross-country skis (or under our boots on the sidewalk) or the silence after a storm. February is a great month to bundle up and get some exercise. Take a walk in a park or forest preserve, or on a local bike path. Bring the kids to one of our area’s many museums and nature centers. Go to the library or a local independent bookstore to learn more about winter wildlife. Attend a nature-inspired event and have fun!
etting outside every day in the winter for more than a brisk walk to the car can help us on the path to a heart-healthy lifestyle, clear our minds of mental cobwebs, soothe emotions and calm our stress. Focusing on finding nature’s wonders on a gray winter day brings joy and serenity, and can boost our mood, too. Standing outside on a crisp, late February morning and hearing that first male cardinal’s territorial song fills my heart with joy at the realization that it’s a glorious winter day and spring is just around the corner.
Happy Valentine’s Day, and a wondrous February to you!