Letter from Publisher
We pass the midwinter point early in the month, and late February’s Snow Moon is reflective of the coming spring, as days get longer and the sun’s rays brighter. Regardless of what that pesky groundhog sees on February 2, we’re beginning the transition to a new season. Each February, I listen for the first songs of male cardinals as they start to establish their spring territory, waiting eagerly to hear the familiar notes of “birdie-birdie-birdie” on a sunny morning. I search for signs of early spring bulbs like snowdrops, and the cheery yellow-red flowers of a few Vernal Witch-hazel shrubs in the neighborhood.
February is the traditional recognition of heart health through several observances including American Heart Month and National Wear Red Day (February 2). In this month’s edition of Natural Awakenings Chicago, our main feature, “Oral Health Tips to Prevent Heart Disease,” explores the connections between our mouth and our heart, and how regular dental care is essential for whole-body wellness. Also check out the Seasonal Kitchen section of the Conscious Eating department which features two heart-healthy recipes by writer Veronica Hinke—one for beet hummus and one for beet “burgers” with a homemade apricot spread (and be sure to watch our behind-the-recipes video at NAChicago.com).
As mentioned in last month’s letter, now is the time to get native perennial seeds ready for spring planting by “stratifying” them outdoors or in the fridge. Be sure to check the stratification time periods, which tend to be around 60 days, but some native plant seeds may require 90 or even 120 days of cold treatment before planting. If summer veggies are more to your gardening style, it’s time to start planning your 2024 garden and sowing early seeds for cooler weather crops. To help us get started, Megy Karydes shares helpful tips from several gardening experts in her article, “From Seed to Plate.”
If you’re looking for a fun and different way to enjoy the Snow Moon, you may want to try a winter night hike. In the Natural Chicago section of our Green Living department, writer Sheryl DeVore takes us on a tour of area forest preserves and conservation districts that offer solar-lit trails, candlelight skiing and winter full moon hikes.
As always, I ask you to please be sure to set aside a few minutes each day to step outside and strengthen your connections with the natural world. Take a walk on a snowy (or warmish) day, watch birds at your feeder, listen for an owl’s call in a forest preserve or park, or try to hear the sounds of ice moving on a local pond. If you’d prefer to stay indoors, check out our many local conservatories and greenhouses (for a great reference, visit NAChicago.com/winterblooms). Whatever you choose, find a glimpse of nature on these 28 days of February plus the one this leap year.
Happy Valentine’s Day!