Given a choice, where would you spend a winter’s day? Deep in a forest, high on a snowy mountain, beside a quiet lake? Hawaii? In the absence of other options I choose the beach. Fall is my favorite season at the ocean, but a February day at the shore with a biting wind makes a person really appreciate the comforts and warmth of home. I think I need to be reminded of just how blessed I am, especially at this time of year, when the walls are closing in on me.
For a person who’s attuned to nature and the cycle of the seasons, February holds the promise of Spring to come. Our winter birds will begin singing this month and the great flocks of Grackles and Red-Wing Blackbirds that mark winter’s passage should arrive. Great Horned Owls are nesting. Skunk cabbage will poke its head out in wet places by month’s end and red maples should begin to show some color at the branch tips.
It’s still winter in February at the shore. There is ice and wind, and solitude. The Oldsquaw and Mergansers court on the glassy surface of the bay. There is little color to distract you from the cold, but for the occasional glint of sea glass brought ashore by the wind. With luck you might find a harbor seal hauled up from the bay to bask in the sun at low tide. An exceptional year for the birder would find a snowy owl in the dunes at North Beach. To repay your wanderings in the wind and cold there might be a small flock of snow buntings instead of a snowy. There are rewards to be found, for sure. Spring peepers and woodcock and plovers are just around the corner.