February is often thought of as a cold and dark month, but it actually marks the awakening the first signs of Spring – crocuses and snowdrops are sprouting and trees are budding. The daylight is returning too, with mornings and evenings getting gradually lighter, and by the end of the month the day will be two hours longer. And with half term approaching, here are 5 natural things to celebrate this month:
1 – Play in the snow
Here in the UK, February is the month when it is most likely to snow. When it falls, rush out to be the first one to make footprints, catch snowflakes on your tongue or build a snowman. If you wrap up warm and don your waterproofs, you can make snow angels by lying down in the snow and moving your legs up and down. Get up carefully and look at the pattern you have left behind.
2 – Eat forced rhubarb
Slender and the brightest of pinks, this British speciality is ‘forced’ to grow in the dark sheds of Yorkshire’s mysterious sounding rhubarb triangle and it is in season now. Try it simply stewed with yoghurt or (my favourite) in a crumble. Pass me the custard.
3 – Go spring flower hunting.
Daffodils, Snowdrops and crocuses will start appearing this month – Wrap up warm and go hunting for them growing in the ground. You won’t have to go too far – roadside verges are often full of the nodding heads of daffodils. While snowdrops and crocuses can often turn up in urban nature sanctuaries, like churchyards and parks.
4 – Embrace the dark and go stargazing
The nights are shortening towards March’s Spring Equinox. Make the most of the dark by looking up to the heavens and seeing which constellations you can spot. You might also spot the International Space Station passing by…
5 – Feed the birds
The RSPB say that feeding birds during cold spells can save lives. Bird cake and food bars are very good because of their high-fat content, as are peanuts. Bird seed mixtures are also high in oils. You can also feed kitchen scraps, such as fat and suet, mild grated cheese, cooked potatoes, pastry and dried fruit. If you don’t have a garden, the birds in your local park would love some food too. Here’s a great way to make a bird feeder and recycle a plastic bottle to boot.
Plus a bonus, if you are on the coast: Go egg case hunting
Out on the beach you might find a lot of these unusual objects washed up on the tideline this month. They’re not “brains” (as some of the beach schoolers call them) but clusters of whelk egg cases. Whelks spawn in November and December and, once the young have hatched, the egg cases wash up on our shore.
If you’d like to know more about the egg cases and learn more about our amazing sea dwellers, head to the Shark Trust and join their Great Egg Hunt.