It’s muddy, miserable and the Christmas joy has long since been forgotten. We are knee deep in the blues longing for warmer outdoor activities. I treat this February stretch upcoming as the dark point before dawn.
It’s time spent flipping through seed catalogs picking out old favorites and a few new things to add to the eclectic mix. Scrape the build-up off the battery post on the old tractor and jump it off to hear it run for a bit. Round up the twine for laying off rows just to make certain it’s on the same shelf it’s resided on for years. Plot a foolproof way to keep away crows and raccoons which will undoubtedly leave you frustrated. Kick the old swing arm on the tractor to witness it sway satisfactorily. It is planning time. Not quite ground breaking nor is it near planting but the planning seems more preparation than dreaming at this point. Standing in the open shed leaned against a culled electric pole serving new life as part of a pole barn you look over the plot of land visualizing. Knowing it’s a mere calendar flip away from putting seeds in the dirt makes the quagmire of late winter seem more manageable.
I’ve always considered February winters last stand despite the fact we’ve witnessed some major league snow in March. In March I’ve found that despite some frozen mornings and winter squalls you’ll find a few teasing warm days tossed in the fray. For these reasons February is prepping time. I’ll walk by the old river rafts knowing that day long tiring floats are within striking distance. I pick up the paddle and twirl it just to remember the feel. Stepping in the shed I’ll snatch my favorite Pflueger reel off it’s perch giving the handle a twirl just to hear the spool spin to a slow stop. I slash at the wind with the tip of a pole pretending to set a hook after a make believe cast landed a Rebel crank bait just under a overhanging cliff ledge. Popping the top of a soft tackle box of river gear I find to no great surprise everything just as it was a few brief months ago. I finger through a zip pocket of grubs and lizards mentally predicting what will be the early spring weapon of choice. I twiddle a Rapala minnow between my fingers mimicking the broken swimming motion with a slight smile recalling the feeling of a smallmouth hammering it just past the rapids.
While a muddy winter shuffles along at a leisurely pace we are indeed in the 7th inning stretch. Winter may hit us with a quick combo as it has before but the tunnel has a end approaching. Dust off that Massey Ferguson seat, spool some new monofilament onto your spinning reel, check your lawnmower blades and dig out that leftover bag of white half runners because we about have this thing beat. We’re in the home stretch and gaining speed.