Welcome to February … the Month Everybody Hates … Or Do They?

Well, no, actually. Some people actually rather enjoy the month which the rest of the population finds so depressing. And, yes, I happen to be one of them. Now before you groan and grumble that February is an awful month, think about it. Yes, February comes right on the heels of the post-Christmas bills. Yes, it's been months since we saw any decent daylight. Yes, it's going to be a while before the weather gets warmer. But I think February gets a raw deal. Okay, so I'm a little biased since I'm a February baby. Nothing like extra presents and lots of cake to cheer an otherwise dreary month. And I have to admit to finding it a bit irritating to be told that I was born in a 'rubbish' month. But, even discounting my personal bias, I still think that even a month as unpromising as February has a lot to offer when it comes to lifting our spirits. Of course, if you're reading this in the Southern Hemisphere, you'll need no convincing. It's high summer where you are, so you'll have to forgive my Northern perspective (and perhaps bookmark this page to read in August!?)

Some people may be unsurprised that once, February didn't even exist. It, along with January, didn't only came into being in 713BC because, prior to that, the Romans believed the winter to be 'monthless'. And no, we can't return to those times!  So, it's the Romans we owe for February Its name even comes from the Romans, well the festival of purification known as Februar.

Until 450BC, February was the final month of the year. And I bet, if it was still New Year's Eve on February 28th all you naysayers would be changing your tune … Mind you, the Romans were a bit strange with their calendar - they used to introduce, periodically, an extra month to rebalance things, but that's another story.

While we're on the subject of the month's name, you can probably tell a great deal about the attitude of different people to what, even I'll admit, can be a trying month, by what they call it. The Anglo-Saxons called it 'Solomanth' - which meant mud month and, looking at our lawn right now, I can see why. They also called it 'Kalemonath' because that was the time the winter cabbage and kale became edible. But I prefer the Finnish interpretation. 

They call it 'Helmikuu' which means month of the pearl because the little droplets of water that freeze on trees so resemble them. Now that's the kind of February positivity I like!But there's plenty more to appreciate. Our gardens may be largely barren and mucky-looking. The trees are bare and the frost has left browned leaves all over the place, but even now there are little signs of hope that spring's renewal is just around the corner. Those gorgeous little snowdrops are beginning to shoot up: tiny, pure white gems, defying the wintry conditions. The first green spiky clumps of daffodils are poking through the almost frozen earth. Okay, it'll be weeks before they burst out into yellow trumpets but it's the first sign of hope. Don't groan but they're the 'green shoots of recovery' in their truest sense.

The first snowdrops are prettifying the garden already!

Garlic bulbs, planted in October, are showing signs of life

And elsewhere in the garden some of the seeds we sowed last autumn are beginning to show signs of life. The garlic and onions on our decking are already beginning to grow, having been 'switched on' by the heavy frosts of November and December. As the horticulturist Getrude S Wister wrote: 'The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size.'

Yes, I did have to look online to find a good February quote, but you know, there are lots out there. Some people have been so moved by February they've written sonnets about it!

I can tell you're unconvinced. But remember, it won't be so long before buds become visible on bushes and trees and even catkins begin to form. Soon it'll be time to plant seeds for spring vegetables. 

And, if you can get out into the country, you'll most likely already be able to see the surest sign of new life - the first lambs of the year. And if you can't be cheered up by the sight of a cute furry baby animal, then there's probably no hope for you! If you're more into self-indulgence than nature appreciaton, you can always snuggle down with a Cadbury's Creme Egg which are, happily for those of us with a sweet tooth, back in the shops already.

And if you're tiring of the weather, well February's so unpredictable that if you don't like it, you only have to wait a minute for it to change!

And look on the bright side. By the end of the month we'll already be six weeks past the shortest day. The nights are already getting shorter and we're only a month away from full-on, buds and shoots, and crocuses and baby birds and … okay, I'll be the first to say it … Easter eggs.

If you still can't stand it, bear this in mind. February is the shortest month of all. If you're still determined to hate it, you'll not have long before it's all over!