With winter almost gone and spring just around the corner, there’s plenty for you to discover outside in February and March. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Has winter left you in a funk? Then bring the bling of spring inside. Clip a few redbud, dogwood, or serviceberry branches. Smash the bottom inch or two of each one with a hammer, then place the branches in a jar of warm water. Set the jar in a cool, dimly lit room away from bright windows. Add fresh water every other day, and in a few weeks you’ll have the first sweet blooms of spring.
As many as a billion birds die each year when they crash into windows. Glass is invisible to birds, and it often reflects trees or clouds, causing birds to fly directly into it. Most collisions occur in spring when birds migrate, but it’s easy to prevent crashes. Just paint a picture on the outside of your windows. Use washable tempera paint, which is long-lasting but comes off with a damp sponge and some elbow grease. Just don’t forget to get a parent’s permission, first!
Sucker-grabbing season opens March 15. To an Ozark angler, suckers are tasty fish with suction-cup mouths, and grabbing means snagging fish using an unbaited hook. If you’d like to give it a go, tie a heavy weight to your fishing line, then tie a large treble hook below that. Wrap the weight in bright duct tape so you can see it underwater. Cast the contraption into a school of suckers. When one swims between your weight and the hook, jerk the rod and hang on.
Nature abounds with heart-shaped objects: redbud leaves, a barn owl’s face, the wings of a butterfly held just so, a deer’s half-melted hoof print in the snow, a perfectly shaped cloud. So, grab a camera and hit the trail to see how many heart-shaped things you can photograph. When you get home, print your favorite photos, fold them into a Valentine’s Day card, and write on the inside, “I’m wild about you.”
Whether March roars in like a lion or tiptoes in like a lamb, get ready for wind by making a wind catcher. Gather pine cones, rocks, mussel shells, turkey feathers, and other nature-y things. Tie two sticks together so they form an “X,” then use short lengths of yarn to tie your collected objects to the sticks. You may need to adjust the items so the cross balances. When you’re done, hang your wind catcher in a tree where you can watch it twirl.
Looking for more ways to have fun outside? Find out about Discover Nature programs in your area at xplormo.org/node/2616.
In winter, chubby groundhogs (also called woodchucks) curl up in burrows for a five-month power nap called hibernation. During hibernation, a groundhog’s heart beats only four times a minute. (If your heart beat that slowly, you’d never wake up.) Legend says if a groundhog sees its shadow on February 2, we’ll get six more weeks of winter. Many groundhogs, however, snooze right through Groundhog Day. Groundhogs are also called whistle pigs because of their shrill call.
Nichole LeClair Terrill