Goodbye swift, soggy February; hello spring’s early heavings

February 26, 2021

As the shortest month, with just 28 days, it’s not surprising that February also feels like the fastest month. In this long, long year, February’s fleet passage is most welcome.

Next week brings March, then March brings the first day of spring on the 20th, and with that date the daily hours of light begin outpacing hours of darkness.

To that we say hallelujah.

The color of evergreens is already deepening, responding to the lengthening hours of daylight and the increasing magic of photosynthesis. In the early-leafing hardwoods such as swamp maples, tips of the youngest branches are starting to redden, another early sign of spring. Such signs can swell optimism. I keep my eyes peeled for whatever reasons for optimism they can see. My increasing sneezing also bodes the advent of spring hay fever.

February is not only the fastest month of the year, but this year it has also been the wettest among recent months. As of Feb. 21, Georgetown statistics for the center of Sussex show a total of 4.68 inches of rain. Normal for the month at this point is 2.26 inches, so we’re more than twice as wet as usual for February.

My layman’s assessment: February has been about the scuzziest month, weather-wise, I can remember in a long time. Sleet, rain, snow, ice and general sloppiness. If you recall a column a few months back when I spoke with a long-term AccuWeather forecaster, he said don’t be surprised to see winter storm activity this year reaching into March. Oh joy.

State park stats

Last week I mentioned the strong increase in attendance at Delaware’s state parks during this time of coronavirus. Shauna McVey, public information officer for the Division of Parks, rustled up numbers for me to more concretely detail that observation.

Here’s what Shauna provided:

As with the summer, the division saw an increase in camping nights through the fall and winter on both weekend and weeknight stays. There was a 12,491 increase in nights booked from October through December from 2018 to 2020, which is a 79 percent increase, while revenue has increased 67 percent.

“The revenue and nights booked for arrivals through March are steadily increasing, and are currently higher than what they were in 2018 and 2019.

“Based on Trail Counter Data, an average increase of 72 percent in usage from 2019 to 2020 was seen across Delaware State Parks. Fork Branch Nature Preserve, and White Clay, Killens Pond and Delaware Seashore state parks saw the highest increase in trail usage.”

Full moon and Easter

February’s full moon comes this weekend on the 27th; in March it falls on the 28th. Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the first day of spring. That means Easter falls this year on April 4, which is relatively early. A time of rebirth and renewal. Don’t you love it?  Such a sweet mixture of Pagan and Christian holy days and traditions.

There’s something comforting about the eternal nature of the phases of the moon, the changing of the seasons, our continuing observations of hope-filled traditions, and our endless quest to make sense of it all.

“Hope springs eternal in the human breast,” wrote Ernest Lawrence Thayer in his famous poem “Casey at the Bat.”

And poet T.S. Eliot, in “The Hollow Men,” famously concluded:  “This is the way the world ends; not with a bang, but a whimper.”

I’m kind of feeling – probably wishful thinking – that the same will be true of the current pandemic.

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