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Outdoors: Carnival

“A lonely, contemplative wanderer reaches at twilight a city where a carnival is in full sway. On every side is heard the clangor of instruments mingled with the shouts of joy and unrestrained hilarity of people giving vent to their feelings in songs and dance tunes.”

So wrote the nature-loving composer, Dvořák, describing his “Carnival Overture.”

Still joyously celebrated in the Czech Republic, and in many parts of the world as Carnival and Mardi Gras, this is a celebration with parades and food.

To those of the Christian tradition, it followed by the solemn season of Lent, which for many, involves fasting.

The Czech name for carnival translates as "good-bye to meat."

In addition to costumes, dancing and shouts of joy, there was eating. The celebration included butchering and pork feasts.

But then came the fasting time of Lent.

In nature’s realm here in the Great Lakes region, the fasting time is well underway by now.

For animals, the time for feasting and building up fat reserves is in the fall.

Now creatures are fasting, or at least getting by on very slim pickings.

When we see wildlife—fox and coyotes and the like—out and about during daylight hours, it means they are working overtime to find enough food to feed themselves.

The birds that flock to our feeders are responding to the difficulty in finding enough food in the wild.

In this dark time of year, many of us experience, to different degrees, emotional hunger.

Perhaps we should do a little more celebrating.

“Songs, dance tunes and unrestrained hilarity,” and following Dvořák’s example of wandering in nature, are mood elevating.

"Outdoors with Coggin Heeringa" can be heard every Wednesday on Classical IPR.