February Cold and Comfort, Survival and the Hunger Moon

by - 7:57 PM

It steals the warmth from your fingertips, the cold does.

Slowing down ponds, streams, rivers and lakes, freezing them solid into suspended states until spring.

The woods sound different too, louder but more silent.

Trees rub together in the cold wind making a squeaking noise that one never hears in summer. Sometimes their branches crack and pop as if they suffer some type of arthritis as the cold has stolen the warmth from their “fingertips” too.

But with the arrival of February winter is now half over.  We look forward to that, humans do.  We aren’t as brave as our ancestors were and have lost some of our edge as we scurry from our warm car to our warm “wherever” next. 

The little urban critters and even the birds seem braver.  They keep warm, somehow.  The bare trees reveal the nests built in the fall are now covered like cupcakes with a layer of snow.  These little “shelters” keep their inhabitants warm despite the lack of shingles and a central heating system.

In early winter these robins would show up at the fish pond and
drink from the fountain.  Like sentinels the birds in the back would
keep watch and then take their turn to drink.  It has been months
since I've seen them back since the pond is now buried in high snow.
This adorable little downy woodpecker
visits every day and I marvel each time
about the birds colors and behavior.
Somehow the critters get the best of us too when they rip our trash apart on a frozen night to find the good stuff, rummaging through our recycle bins like drunkards looking for the last bottle.  These messes we clean up in the morning while leaving a stale piece of bread on the banister as if for some sacred “offering”. 

Urban-life and wild-life collide when coyotes tear apart a rabbit right on the lawn.  Predatory hawks watch the feeder but somehow the birds know and hide; yet somehow everyone eats… most of the time.

And it's magnificent, February is.  When you get a snowfall that so high you can't imagine you will see another like it. And the sky.... on a clear night the cold polishes the stars for an extra shimmer and the blue on a clear day cannot be matched.  

On the 14th of this month we welcome the full moon.  Native tribes called this full moon the “Snow Moon” or more aptly the “Hunger Moon” as February typically brings the heaviest snows making hunting difficult and where some tribes did go hungry.  

But that is of another time and I feel lucky that I am part of this time and for now I will take solace in the fact that February is the shortest month and huddle around the wood stove and tend to the pot of chicken soup.

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