Human Hibernation · 10 November 2006

Every fall when the weather starts to turn cool, I feel like saying to my neighbors, “Goodbye. I will see you next spring.” For most of the neighbors, that will be true. We will not really see much of each other until the sun comes out again and the yards need to get mowed again. While I know that it is true that the neighbors’ lives continue even as ours does, that they go to work or school or stay home, it will be like the rest of the neighborhood is in hibernation. Life in the neighborhood will largely be life with our family because the doors of our neighborhood are mostly shut until next spring.

I sometimes wonder about life in places where it snows if this phenomenon of human hibernation is more or less pronounced. Do people see each other more when it snows because they are out shoveling driveways and walks or do they see less of each other because it is colder outside? I wonder if it is much different in warmer climes where the sun stays out longer in the winter months than the two or three hours it brings light through the clouds in the Northwest. I ask myself if people in southern California see more of each other in the winter than we do here because they are still mowing their lawns and going to the beach in their sweaters. I wonder these things and I think that it is probably the same wherever people live.

No matter whether it is cold or warm or somewhere in between, people probably still seem to hibernate in the winter. But I know we do not see each other in the winter because people hibernate. People do not see much of their neighbors anymore because lives are too busy to hang around at home much. Life is too complicated at work, at school, at home. Everybody is going, going, going and there is no time for neighbors except when it is summer and they are just going. Even in the summertime, we rarely see each other unless we happen to be outside at the same time or have a break between baseball games and mowing the lawn. We seldom shoot the breeze even when the weather is nice.

People do not hang out with their neighbors like they used to do in the old days because they do not know their neighbors. They do not spend much time with them because they are never home. Life rushes by and we barely have time to sit down with our own families much less our neighbors. It is just the way things are these days. What we do is important. We spend time the way we think it will better our family and community. We do not see our neighbors much in the winter not because we are hibernating. We do not see our neighbors in the winter not because there is little sun light in the day. The reason we do not see our neighbors in the winter is because we are just too busy.

I know that we will not see our neighbors much this winter. I know that life is too busy for us to do so unless we plan it. It is sad really, but this year I think I really will say to my neighbors, “Goodbye. See you next spring.”

© 2006 Michael T. Miyoshi

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Published 10 November 2006 in The RiverCurrentNews


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