Tuesday, February 03, 2009

February - Buds, Birds, and Blooms

It's cold outside this morning. During the night it snowed a bit and the roads are too slick for the school buses, so school was canceled. I am at home with my daughter.

February is certainly an unpredictable month. There may be a week of 70 degree weather, or there may be a huge ice storm. The most amazing winter weather event of my entire life occurred in February - February 9-10, 1973 in Columbia SC. But that's another story.

Just like in late August and early September when there are often harbingers of fall - the cold front that brings air that is dry and cooler and seems to smell like fall, the Tulip Poplar leaves here or there that are starting to turn yellow, or the flock of birds that shows up in your yard already starting on its journey south.

February is similar - it is still winter but hints of Spring abound. It is a month pregnant with possibility. Despite the cold of January that has just past, the days continue to lengthen, and temperatures become just a little more mild.

Life begins to break out all over. There are three harbingers of Spring that make February delightful - buds, birds, and blooms.

The birds are busy and even have a different sound. They are claiming territory and building nests and mating. I've seen several blue birds this week flitting busily about. We have sparrows building a nest in a shrub. Crows are hyper. This can be a hard time for birds that gather seed and berries, as well as those who feed on insects. Food sources are in short supply. It's a good time to "feed the birds, tuppence a bag."

Tree buds are swelling already. It is fascinating to study and understand what it is exactly that triggers bud swelling and opening. Day length or night length may play a part, as may temperature. Either way, buds are really cool, containing in them tiny but recognizable precursors to leaves and flowers. It's only February 3rd today but already the silver maple buds have expanded.

February brings forth many beautiful and delicate little wildflowers in fields and lawns. Many consider these to be weeds. My favorite early wildflower is Lamium, that little purple flower that shoots up with a tuft of beautiful blue/purple flowers in a whorl around the stem. There are many others, mostly small. I hope to get pictures of them all this year.

Take a walk, take a break, and open you eyes and ears to all that is around you. Spring's a coming!

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