February is winter’s battleground, a month reluctantly moving toward spring. As the days grow longer, the sun gets stronger, but at night temperatures plunge and the forest returns to winter. For weeks now, snow falls, and melts, and falls again. Just last week on an unusually warm day I heard peepers and wood frogs calling from a small vernal pool. Their voices are silenced now, with a forecast of near zero this weekend.
Walking through the woods along a stream near my home, I found a small branch that had fallen on a rock, with a lone icicle. It seemed to symbolize this time of transition. I watched the icicle drip steadily into the flowing waters as the sun glinted off its icy dagger, stopping when the sun was lost behind a tree shadow.
In mild years the first spring wildflowers may appear in my yard by the end of the month, certainly within the first week or two of March. But for now winter’s war rages on, the season retreating at midday, and returning at sunset. As the sun returned, the icicle again fed the flowing waters that will soon moisten the green shoots and delicate flowers of spring.