Bob Mitchell: Month of February re-visited

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

With all the previous years’ rattle about eliminating the month of February from the calendar, the shortest month of the year is still with us, and apparently is going to be with us from now through the remainder of our existence.

So, why not take another look into the month we find ourselves in, at least for the rest of the month, and see what might be significant.

Garden planning

Lots of folks use this time of the year to do their garden planning. It’s said by some that are supposed to be experts, that the wise thing to accomplish during immediate days is to order seeds, plants, etc. now, since early requests usually get the cream of the available supplies.

One interesting fact discovered during a review of February planting successes regarded the planting of cabbage.

According to this particular source, it was best to plant cabbage seeds after dark. And, it was important to this legend that the planter be dressed correctly in the right attire — your nightclothes!

Can you imagine seeing a Barry Countian out in the garden, after dark, in their PJ’s planting cabbage seeds?

Then, there’s the groundhog

The arrival of just recently observed Groundhog Day, so far as tradition is concerned, traditionally marks the midpoint between the winter solstice and spring equinox.

Around that time of the year, farmers needed to determine when to plant their crops, so they tried to forecast whether there would be an early spring or a lingering winter.

Candlemas Day

Sunshine on Candlemas Day, Feb. 20, was said in early days to indicate the return of winter, also believing that on this day, “be the winds out of the east, there it will stick until May 2.”

It was not held as a good omen, if the day itself was bright and sunny, for that would indicate snow and frost to continue, requiring the hiring of laborers six weeks later on Lady Day. If it were cloudy and dark, warmth would come to the fields and have them ready for planting.

Today’s way of thinking

Groundhog Day is a remotely connected to that belief. According to legend, if the rodent sees his shadow on this day, there will be six more weeks of winter. If it doesn’t, spring is just around the corner.

With the number of groundhogs in existence in Barry County, there are some of us who think that this long-lasting legend is bound to be in effect for our area.

Early ways of thinking

For centuries, farmers in France and England looked to the bear, and in Germany they kept their eye on the badger. In the 1880s, German immigrants to Pennsylvania brought the tradition with them. Finding no badgers, they turned their legend to the groundhog.

At this point of February, we now know what the groundhog found once he stuck his head out of his lair last week.

Off the spike

Hats are off to the company that is now providing an alternative to continued disruption of home life with an announcement that making another number selection on your phone, you can reach their no-call list. A great move by this company, something utility providers might require from all their robo call customers. Undoubtedly, the phone communication firms realize who these customers are.

Bird watching around our well-used feeder has provided this piece of information. Redbirds aren’t all that kind toward other redbirds. They often crowd one-another off the platform more than likely before the first arrival finishes their meal. The same would apply to the blue jay. This action doesn’t exist between the smaller birds that visit the feeding station.

Now for the ardent, cold weather anglers, here are the remaining fishing reminders about the remainder of the month, best days, 15th and 16th; good days 19th, 20th, 23rd and 24th.

And, for keeping things running smoothly around the house, perhaps a reminder is in order for those having a sweetheart or for the married types, tomorrow, February14, is Valentine Day. If you failed to remember, perhaps a belated recognition might be in order.

The Almanac tells us there are possibilities of freezes reaching into Florida toward the end of the month. Since this inclement weather has to come from some direction, it might possibly pass through this neck of the woods. Could it be that Ground Hog Day could have caused this to happen?

One thing is for sure, our annual indicator of spring, the opening of Roaring River State Park is a scant 15 days into the future. Regardless of what weather might befall this event, it’s time to drag out the gear, sharpen the hooks and get proper clothing out for whatever might be around on March 1

Bob Mitchell is the former editor and publisher of the Cassville Democrat. He is a 2017 inductee to both the Missouri Press Association Hall of Fame and Missouri Southern State University’s Regional Media Hall of Fame.