THE LADIES PAGE

COUNTRY ECHOES


| March/April 1972



The whining winter winds of Wisconsin are whistling through the bedroom window which I can't quite get closed. The messages they bring send a shiver down my spine, as I contemplate the stretch of winter still ahead. That is until 1 think of the plucky penguins of the Arctic and the Antarctic area.

For a period of two months during the cold and dark of the Antarctic winter, the male Emperor Penguin goes without food as he incubates the one single egg which is to bring forth the offspring of himself and his white-vested mate.

In other species of penguins the time is shared by both male and female. They may change as often as twice a day. While in other families of penguins the eggs are laid in rough nests of stones and bits of vegetation. Over these the brooding bird lies flat to keep the eggs warm and bring forth their young. This is hardly liberation for either parent.

One can but marvel at the instincts of such creatures. Their constant enemies are the Elephant Seals which lumber up out of the water, and often crush their nests and eggs as they haul their heavy bodies around on the rocky, frozen ground.

For Penguins, such as the Emperors, the seal is not such a threat. They keep their lone egg warm in a fold of skin just above their feet. These remain up-right, back to the biting wind, patiently waiting for the arrival of a living little one. They often stand near moving water so they can assuage their thirst. And there are the varieties of penguins equipped with extra insulation so they can move about during the incubation period.

Surely it is good to remember the penguins when I am disliking winter. Suddenly I find myself being very grateful for a warm house, and ample food. The thought of a satisfying supply for anyone's sweet tooth was brought home to me recently as we traveled toward New Jersey.