For human residents of the Northern Hemisphere, early February is often viewed as the low point of the year, We are, after all, tropical creatures and, while many of us enjoy winter weather, a craving for mild, sunny days seeps from our DNA.
Indeed, early February often brings the coldest weather of the year and blizzards seem to be especially common during this maligned month. Of course, the fact that it is followed by the first calendar month of spring seems to slow its progress, despite its reduced allotment of days. Ground Hog Day, Superbowl Sunday and Valentines Day offer little compensation for this final gauntlet of frigid weather and our yearning for the mild fragrance of spring only augments our discomfort during the raw days of late winter.
Yet, for the naturalist, February has much to offer. Skunk cabbage pushes through the cold soil of our icy wetlands while crocuses, hyacinths and snowdrops bring the first wave of color to our suburban lawns and flower beds. Vocal flocks of snow geese, moving northward through the frigid air, instill hope in our winter-weary souls and the lengthening daylight confirms our steady, if uneven, march toward spring. In the woodlands, great horned owls attend to their downy youngsters while, later in the month, the din of tree frogs gradually intensifies throughout our marshlands. Why rush toward the mud of March, the violent storms of May and the stifling heat of summer when February has so many gifts to enjoy?