Saturday, February 13, 2010

February Fun with the F-Word

Alliteration is one of my favorite stylistic devices and today, my brain is off into a fabulous forage for F-words. February Fourteenth is for Fornication?

Indeed, the day otherwise named for a saint has a rather unsaintly history. It is actually the anniversary of a pagan fertility festival. A pre-Christian lottery system paired a randy boy with a lusty girl for a day of unfettered sex that honored Juno, the goddess of marriage. Ah, but don't you worry, my scandalized friends, more than likely, the pair would hit it off that day and settle down to make a permanent home and hearth. But in my garden on this February day, all signs of frivolity and fertility is frosty frozen. Out there, whatever drives the plants to send their roots deep into the soil and their stems and petals skyward is defunct, buried beneath glaciers of ice and snow.

It was in February a few years past when the raccoons could be seen high in the trees humping and howling. I remember the look on one of their faces, when he caught me watching. His hostile expression seemed to be saying, "A little privacy, please."

February is for (insert your favorite F-word here). It is in February when the gold crown night herons return with their mates to their perches in the trees down in Sligo Creek Park. And I know for a fact that deep in the back reaches of Southern Maryland, down at Nanjemoy Creek, the moaning and groaning of lovesick great blue herons fills the ancient rookery. There, some 2,000 birds descend annually into a marshy oak and pine grove to strut and preen in their ritual mating dance. A rookery is nature's way of facilitating fecundity.

February is also the month in which I intend to force forsythias. I want to clip an armful and bring them inside to make a lusty array of yellow buds that indoors, comes early (forgive me, with Fs on the brain, I can't help myself).

But instead, all last week as the snow fell and we all descended into a strange, drugged stupor, as our world slowly sank beneath the weight of slush and ice, all of nature seemed to lose any interest in fertility and fecundity. I'd have to wear a pair of hip waders to get even close to the forsythia bush and the raccoons are appallingly quiet. The squirrels aren't even acting squirrelly. Only the sparrows and finches are active. And that's because they are furiously fighting to feast at the feeders.

Inside, a pink Valentine amaryllis reminds me that amor will somehow survive. So maybe when the sun comes out today and warms the deviant black ice on the pavement and starts the icicles to dripping, nature will once again return to doing what would make Saint Valentine blush, or as Herrick once said:

Oft I have heard both
Youths and Virgins say
Birds chase their mates,
and couple to this day;
But by their flight I never
can devine
When I shall couple with
My Valentine.
--Robert Herrick, 1648

1 comment:

  1. Ahh but the first of May is not that far away!