I hate winter, especially since I moved to northern Virginia where freezing temps and precipitation rarely meet. While the rest of the northeast is getting blanketed with the fluffy white stuff, we’ve had nothing but a few flakes, plenty of sleet, and incessant rain. The kind that freezes not just the roads but the microscopic crevices in your bones and the cracks in your soul until you feel like you may never get warm again. While impatiently waiting for spring, I retreat inside to write, catch up on my favorite TV series, bicker with my family, and even do a little house cleaning. Which leaves my mind to wander into this article: how do the seasons effect my beasties and their more human neighboring characters?
In our mundane world, many species migrate during the spring and fall, seeking more comfortable temps, water and better grub, including the predators who follow in the their wake. Others like bears and groundhogs instead hunker down in some cozy hole and sleep their way through the lean times. Our fantastical creatures might exhibit such behavior (e.g. wood sprites migrating thousands of miles like monarch butterflies). And so might parnormal characters, just as predictably.
Evolution leaves its mark on us all and has a lousy habit of not cleaning up after itself. From my useless appendix to the guy at the beach with a back that rivals King Kong’s, mother nature’s genetic refuse is everywhere. Our reflexes and instincts are no exception. Shapeshifters, being closer to their inner beast, can more obviously display this phenomenon. Maybe they literally migrate, snowbird-style, or have narcolepsy only in the winter, or maybe the effect is more subtle. Maybe when times are tough, they retreat into themselves, hunkering down until the sunshine returns like their furry ancestors.
Seasonality can also effect characters in other ways. Time of year has had a long-standing relationship with magic, with certain pagan rites and witches’ spells reserved for Samhain or Beltane when the veil between worlds is said to be thinner. But our imagination can take us a step farther. A young witches’ powers might glitch in sub-zero weather or a fire elemental might have extra juice during a heat wave. Vampires, allergic to sunlight, hate summer’s longer days yet love the buffet of scantily clad late-night humans partying it up at beach bonfires, rooftop beer gardens, and poolside soirees.
Definitely not. After gorging on a few extra head of cattle, they retreat to their caves deep within the Earth and curl up on their mountain of gold, tail clutching a princess in case they get peckish during the usual Indian summer.
Here’s hoping you are someplace warm and dry that isn’t a cave. And if you’ve forgotten what happens to those who wake up hibernating creatures, watch the Hobbit. Or stop by my house this Saturday at 6:00am.