The practice of dividing the year into 12 months was ordered by Julius Caesar in 45 BC because they coincided with the 12 lunar cycles. Of those 12 months, we just finished my least favorite; January! I’m not completely sure why, but I would think it has something to do with the post-Christmas let-down, the wintery weather coupled with sub-zero temperatures and the oppressive gray cloud cover that seems to be present for the majority of those 31 days.
But suddenly, it’s February! My second least favorite month! But at least February is noticeably brighter. Since December 23rd, the days have been growing inexorably longer by a whopping one to two minutes per day! When viewed daily, it’s imperceptible but by the time February rolls around you begin to notice that it’s not as dark at supper time as it was two months ago. And the sun seems to start its day a little bit earlier as I enjoy my morning coffee.
Another pleasant aspect of February is that I’m slowly accumulating a stack of seed and gardening catalogs on my coffee table. One of these days, probably sooner than I should, I’ll begin sorting last fall’s harvested seeds and transferring them to garden boxes in the sunniest room in the house. Last winter, I started certain slow growing hot pepper seeds at the end of January which was just too soon. By the middle of May, they were 30 inches tall! I ended up having to stake every plant to keep them from toppling over. This year, I’ll be tasked with having to find a happy medium.
These are the types of activities that help me get through the winter months. When I was younger, I skied, both downhill and cross-country. A heavy snowfall was a cause for rejoicing rather than grumping. And while skiing is something you can enjoy well into your golden years, all the buddies that used to accompany me have either moved away or passed on. It is ironic, however, that as my free time increases, my desire has also diminished!
One good thing about February that seems to happen every year is a premature Spring thaw. I first noticed this when I would sign up for an 8-week ski package at the former Ski Wing Hollow in Allegany. Even though the package commenced right after Christmas we never got all eight weeks in before the grass and weeds sprouted up through the rapidly melting snow base. Since then, because I’m actively waiting for it, that same February thaw has happened almost without fail.
It’s certainly a harbinger of Spring even thought we know the actual date is still several weeks off. You can always take solace in the fact that “pitchers and catchers” report to Spring Training at about the same time you’re looking for that last-minute Valentine’s bouquet. But the absolute best thing about Spring Training? . . . . My Pirates haven’t yet been mathematically eliminated!