Spring arrives when it arrives; when the snowdrops show buds; chickweed puts forth its tiny blooms; the pussy willows show brilliant white tips against the brown-black buds; the bluebird’s haunting, illusive quavering call is borne on a February wind; skunk cabbage shows a deep blackish-purple tip through soggy ice …
-Charles Burchfield, Journal
Lunar phase and lore
The Spinning Cranefly Moon, entering its last quarter on Feb. 3, wanes throughout the week, becoming the new Lenten Rose Moon at 2:20 a.m. on Feb. 10.
One of the first flowers to bloom in late winter, the Lenten rose, or hellebore, opens as aconites and snowdrops blossom in protected areas.
Maple sap runs when hellebores bloom, and most of the nation’s lambs and kids are born when those flowers appear.
Lunar position this week suggests the most fish will bite as the air and water warm up near midday. Dieters may have trouble refraining from pie at that time, as well.
As the cold fronts of Feb. 6 and 11 approach, fish should become even more active around noon, and children should eat more.
This is one of the finest lunar planting weeks of the year for flowers and vegetables that will produce their fruit above the ground. Put in your seeds in flats under lights and keep them warm, especially under Capricorn on Feb. 6-8, and then under Pisces on Feb. 10-12.
Take cuttings to propagate shrubs, trees and houseplants. Under this week’s dark moon, complete winter pruning to retard growth.
By midnight during February’s first week, giant Orion begins to move west from its dominating January position in the center of the southern sky. The star grouping of Canis Major takes its place along the horizon, with Sirius, the Dog Star, the brightest light in the whole night sky.
A typical February in the lower Midwest brings one day with highs in the 60s, two or three in the 50s, a week in the 40s, 8-10 days in the 30s, six in the 20s and one or two days only in the teens or single digits. There is a 50 percent chance for a morning or two below zero.
The coldest part of the month usually falls between Feb. 1-14. The days with at least a 40 percent chance for highs only in the 20s or below are Feb. 4-8 and 12. The warmest days, those with a 30 percent chance for highs above 50, are Feb. 2, 15, 18-19, 21-23 and 28.
Feb. 22 is typically the warmest day of all, having a 50 percent chance for highs above 50 degrees.
Feb. 4: Under the dark moon, treat ash, bittersweet, fir, elm, flowering fruit trees, hawthorn, juniper, lilac, linden, maple, oak, pine, poplar, spruce, sweet gum, tulip tree and willow for scales and mites.
Spray trees with dormant oil when temperatures rise into the upper 30s or 40s. The best chances of experiencing those temperatures in northern states will occur between Feb. 15-23.
Feb. 5: Flies and bees come looking for snowdrops when temperatures warm to 50 degrees. Deer gather together throughout the month to feed in herds. Turkeys continue flocking now, but they will disband and scatter into smaller family groups by April.
Groundhogs come out of hibernation. You may see them eating the new grass by the side of the road. Opossums, skunks, beavers and raccoons seek their mates.
Feb. 6: This is the week to get ready for maple sap time. New moon on Feb. 10 should begin the early spring “running of the sap,” building up to its peak at full moon at the end of the month.
Feb. 10 is Chinese New Year. The Chinese market is often strong throughout the winter, favoring sheep in the 60- to 80-pound live weight range.
Feb. 7: In northern Mexico, monarch butterflies are moving toward the Texas border. They will reach the Gulf coast in small groups during mid- to late March, and their offspring will find the Midwest in middle summer.
Feb. 8: Doves begin to call after sunrise, not every morning, but once or twice a week until the first days of early spring, after which they sing through the end of late summer.
Feb. 9: Take advantage of the dark moon for cutting wood and for your winter building projects. Order or build cloches (small covers of transparent material for individual plants set outdoors). Clean and repair cold frames. Make hot frames (which traditionally use manure for heat).
This is also a good lunar time for frost seeding the lawn (as long as there is no snow cover), as well as for frost seeding oats and barley. Spread the seeds across the field and yard; the freezing and thawing of the ground as winter progresses will do the planting for you.
Feb. 10: The Lenten Rose Moon is new today, just three days before the beginning of Christian Lent. Work throughout the coming six weeks to sell your kids and lambs to the Easter Market that grows with the development of early spring throughout the nation.
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