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Feb. 14 marks turning point in struggle to escape winter
Feb. 11-17
Great rumors are afloat in the air of a great and coming change. We are eager for Winter to be gone .... But he will not abdicate without a struggle. Day after day he rallies his scattered forces, and night after night pitches his white tents on the hills, and would fain regain his lost ground; but the young prince in every encounter prevails.

Slowly and reluctantly the gray old hero retreats up the mountain, until finally the south rain comes in earnest, and in a night he is dead.
-John Burroughs

Lunar phase and lore
The Lenten Rose Moon, new on Feb. 10, waxes throughout the week, entering its second quarter at 3:31 p.m. Rising in the morning and setting in the evening, this moon will move overhead (its most influential position for fishing and feeding) in the afternoon.

Lunar passage into Pisces on Feb. 11-12 and into Taurus on Feb. 15-20 offers the best planting scenario for the week, but any day under the waxing Lenten Rose Moon is favorable for sprouting. And the moon’s weakening position throughout the period augurs well for teachers, health-care workers, police and firefighters.
On Feb. 18, of the year’s second month, the sun reaches a declination of almost 12 degrees, the halfway point to equinox.

Weather trends

Feb. 14 is the first day of early spring throughout the lower Midwest. Although temperatures can be in the 30s for 45 percent of the time or even in the 20s on 5 percent of all the days, Feb. 14 suddenly offers a 50 percent chance of highs above 40 degrees: in the 40s 45 percent of the time, in the 50s or 60s the remaining 5 percent.
Precipitation is often the price for moderation – snow falls 25 percent of the time, rain another 30 percent.

From this point forward in the year, rain is more likely to fall than snow. Odds for a morning below zero are less than 5 percent per day for Feb. 14-16.

Feb. 15 has the highest incidence of highs in the 50s and 60s of any time so far in February – a full 40 percent of the afternoons reach those levels (with a 15 percent chance for 60s, and 25 percent for 50s). That’s the first time since Dec. 15 that the likelihood of mild temperatures has been so great.

Feb. 11: The third cold wave of the month, ordinarily the last severe system of late winter, arrives near this date, bearing a high chance for precipitation and sunless skies. Yesterday’s new moon is expected to intensify this front.

Feb. 12: Today is Mardi Gras, the final day of the month-long Carnival season that ends with a big party and feast before Ash Wednesday and the start of the Lenten fast. This is a good time to sell meat for a whole-lamb barbecue bash, especially for Mardi Gras fundraiser events.

Feb. 13: Horned larks and red-winged blackbirds, meadowlarks, starlings and bald eagles begin migrations. Skunk Cabbage will be recovering from the deep cold and might well be blooming in the wetlands.

Feb. 14: As Dec. 14 marks the beginning of the darkest and chilliest portion of the year, Feb. 14 marks the beginning of the end of winter. Across the Southeast and the Southwest, the floral cycle is now starting, and along the Canadian border, the frequency of highs in the teens or below starts to drop.

Since mild winds from the Gulf of Mexico often clash with Arctic air during this period, the days between Feb. 14-18 bring an increased likelihood of serious storms.

Feb. 15: Depending on the year, growth occurs on ragwort, dock, sweet rocket, asters, winter cress, poison hemlock, sedum, mint, celandine, plantain, poppies, pansies, daffodils, tulips, crocus, aconite, hyacinth and strawberries.

All those hardy leaves are expanding a centimeter here or there, such measurements seeming unimportant until they can measure spring, and then there is no insignificant degree. The signs accelerate, accumulate and become a new season, turning into what they represent by force of numbers.

Feb. 16: Bulb-blooming season opens this month as far north as Chicago, with the first aconites and snowdrops opening in sheltered microclimates.

Feb. 17: Put in spring wheat when conditions permit. Put in oats or ryegrass for quick vegetative cover. This is also a good time to seed and fertilize the lawn. Most bedding plants should be started in their flats, and only four weeks remain until all hardy plants can be set out.