I recently saw a cartoon calling this past January “The Cruelest Month,” and I could relate. We’ve had record cold temperatures, an awful flu season, dangerous ice and snow, short days and long nights…okay, you’re right, it’s winter; I should be used to it. Still, you can’t blame me for looking for signs of a break.
I went to the Little River Wetlands webpage to see what our local nature might have in store for us soon, and I found that World Wetlands Day will be celebrated on February 2.
“World Wetlands Day is celebrated around the world on February 2 under the leadership of the Convention on Wetlands, also known as the Ramsar Convention, an intergovernmental collaboration. This year’s theme is “Wetlands for a Sustainable Urban Future,” recognizing wetlands’ critical role in making urban areas livable.”
The programs planned for that day in Fort Wayne include:
10:00 am – World Wetlands Day Walk at Fox Island County Park, 7324 Yohne Road, hosted by Allen County Parks (registration required).
1:00 pm – “Secrets of a Wetland: Keeping Your City Clean and Green” presented by Betsy Yankowiak of Little River Wetlands Project at Aboite Branch of the Allen County Public Library, 5630 Coventry Lane, hosted by LRWP.
4:00 pm – Urban Wetland Hike at Mengerson Nature Preserve, 5895 Stellhorn Road, hosted by ACRES Land Trust.
7:00 pm – “Ephemeral Wetlands: Jewels in the Forest” presented by Dr. Bruce Kingsbury at JK O’Donnell’s, 121 W. Wayne Street, Fort Wayne. Hosted by IPFW’s Environmental Resources Center.
I also found that on February 14th there will be a Winter Birding Hike—what they call Short Hikes for Short Legs—for the kids—from 9:00 am to 10:00 am starting at the Eagle Marsh barn, 6801 Engle Road, Fort Wayne.
“Not all birds fly south for the winter. First, we’ll show our winter birds love by creating a treat for them. Later, we’ll take a short hike in search of our winter feathered friends. This part hike, part interactive educational activity event is open to the public with a curriculum and trail length appropriate for kids ages 3-5 years.”
This sounded like a good way to celebrate February 14, and I was reminded of something I wrote about a few years ago concerning birds and Valentine’s Day from my friend, John Brennan—a retired English professor. He described to me how celebrating love on Valentine’s Day actually began with a story about birds.
“In a dream poem by Geoffrey Chaucer, written around the year 1380, a meeting of birds comes together on the 14th of February, the time when they begin returning from their winter homes and looking to choose a mate for the coming year. In this story three young male eagles (tercels) argue over which of them will win the ‘hand’ of one formel or female eagle. Soon the lower class birds enter to protest, and they launch into a comic parliamentary debate. In the end, none of the three tercels wins the formel. She is allowed to go off and choose a mate for herself in her own time. Nature allows the other birds, however, to pair off, and the dream ends with a song welcoming the new spring.”
Dr. Brennan, who taught courses on Chaucer at IPFW, said that “The Parliament of Birds” was the first reference to the idea that St. Valentine’s Day is a special day for lovers, though February 14 had long before that been the Christian feast day of Saint Valentine who was martyred in 269 AD.
I like to think that Valentine’s Day is about more than just romantic love. I remember the cards and little candy hearts that my children exchanged at school as they were growing up. Their teachers took special care to make sure that everyone in the class was included, and that’s something I really thought was important. That meant that my children were being taught that love should be shared with everyone—early lessons of inclusion!
This year on Valentine’s Day let’s all do something not just for the sweetheart in our lives but for everyone we meet. Take time to stop, listen, and share a hug or a smile. If you receive flowers or candy or a gift be sure and show your gratitude, read the cards you receive and know that the sender probably took some time and care to pick that card out just for you. As I know it does for everybody, the busy-ness in life often eats up the time I should be taking to show my family and friends just how much they mean to me, that I really love them, and that I am glad they are in my life.
And maybe by sharing some love, the rest of the winter can feel a little kinder for all of us.