Almanac February 2024
February wakes us gently.
Deep in our late-winter slumber, we dream of wild violets and dandelions; the return of hummingbirds; the green and quivering kiss of spring.
Swaddled in ancient stillness, our hearts ache for warm earth and fragrant blossoms; snap peas and crimson clover; chorus frogs and velvet-soft grass. February knows. Still, we mustn’t be ripped from this rich and fertile darkness. We mustn’t be startled, forced or rushed.
As the pink breath of dawn illuminates a leafless kingdom, a barred owl pierces the silence with a rousing incantation. Within our womb-like chrysalis, we shift and wriggle, reaching for our wild longings, tilting our face toward the beckoning sun. Prayers for patience on her tongue, the wise one lets us sleep, stroking our hair as we flit between worlds.
Soon, the cardinal will sing of bloodroot, crocus and flowering quince. Soon, a mourning cloak will flutter among the bleak and frigid landscape.
As we drift toward this vernal threshold, February invites us to linger. She knows that our souls require deep rest. She trusts our natural rhythm. She softly guides a sunbeam to our winter-weary bones.
The bluebird scouts a nesting site. The red fox grooms her kits. As sure as the daffodils rise from naked earth, we will open our eyes, awakened by the quickening pulse of our inner spring.
I know him, February’s thrush,
And loud at eve he valentines
On sprays that paw the naked bush
Where soon will sprout the thorns and bines.
— George Meredith,
“The Thrush in February,” c.1885
Outside the (Chocolate) Box
There are flowers, and there is fruit. But if you’re looking to dazzle your green-thumbed sweetheart on Valentine’s Day, consider gifting a fruit tree, which ultimately offers both.
Apple, fig, persimmon, pear and plum are among the recommended fruit bearers for our state. Choose cultivars that thrive in the particular soil and climate you’re working with, plant it with a kiss, then let the tree enchant the gardener year after year.
Year of the Dragon
The Chinese (Lunar) New Year is celebrated on Saturday, Feb. 10. Get ready for the Year of the Wood Dragon, the last of which delivered Beatlemania and the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964.
If ever you’ve heard “The Great Race” fable — that is, how the Jade Emperor determined the sequence of the 12 animals associated with the Chinese calendar — then perhaps you recall the honorable qualities of the dragon (fifth sign of the zodiac), who stopped to help the creatures of the Earth rather than easefully crossing the finish line first. Those born under the Year of the Wood Dragon are the wayshowers. They’re here to dream up a better world, and have the vigor and drive to roll up their sleeves and get the job done. PS