By Ash Alder

The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size.

– Gertrude S. Wister


February morning . . .

The coffee is freshly ground, and you hold in your hands the last grapefruit from the bushel. Remember how your grandma used to eat them? And how, when the birds started singing, she would visit the camellias, maybe cut one for the green vase on the windowsill?

Suddenly you feel like dancing.

Sliding in your socks across the cold kitchen floor, sweet memories flicker like the warm crackling of vinyl.

You put on the coffee. Slice the grapefruit. Reach for the sugar bowl.

In the cupboard, on the highest shelf, you notice the little green vase. The birds are singing, and you are waltzing to the windowsill.

Won’t be long, now, until the camellia flowers.

The waltz of winter is one of the simple pleasures.   

Sweet as Pie   

The last full moon rose on Jan. 31; the next rises March 1. No full snow moon this month, but the new moon falls on Feb. 15, the day after Cupid strikes. Cold as it’s been this winter, perhaps we can call it the new snow moon. And if the god of the great wintry winds gifts us with more of it, you’ll want to have the (coconut/almond) milk and honey on hand for snow cream.

Friday, Feb. 16, marks the celebration of the Chinese New Year. Cue the paper lanterns. This lunar New Year is a time to clean house and create space for good luck to arrive. In the spirit of the Earth Dog, a little advice from man’s best friend: Be happy; be loyal; live from the heart.

National Cherry Pie Day is celebrated on Feb. 20. Although the old chestnut about George Washington and the cherry tree is a myth, it’s true that cherries were one of the president’s favorite foods. Chill some to sweeten a romantic evening, or if you feel inspired to bake pie, make a date of it. 

Calling in a sacred partner? A Japanese love spell suggests tying a single strand of hair to a blossoming cherry tree. No lie.   

Roses & Rutabaga

Red roses say I love you, but nothing says our love is eternal like the whole fragrant bush. February is generally a good month to plant roses. And if you’re already playing round in the garden, consider popping a few early rutabagas into the ground. Also known as the swede, this root vegetable is believed to prevent premature aging, improve eyesight and, because it’s loaded with vitamin C (one cup contains 32 milligrams), it’s an excellent immune system booster. Maple-glaze them. Roast them with brown butter. Or if you’re craving savory, they, too, make good pie.

Tree Wisdom

The ancient Celts looked to the trees for knowledge and wisdom. According to Celtic tree astrology, those born from Jan. 21 – Feb. 17 associate with the rowan (mountain ash), a tree whose wood has long been used for spindles and spinning wheels. Rowans are the philosophers of the zodiac. They are visionaries, eccentrics, and like Aquarians, are often perceived as cool or aloof. But that’s just because they’re busy dreaming up a whole new world. Rowan people are most compatible with ivy (Sept. 30–Oct. 27) and hawthorn (May 13–June 9) signs. In the Ogham, a sacred Druidic alphabet, the symbol of the rowan represents insight, protection and blessings.



Every gardener knows that under the cloak of winter lies a miracle. . .

a seed waiting to sprout, a bulb opening to the light, a bud straining to unfurl.

And the anticipation nurtures our dream. – Barbara Winkler

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