I live on the breaks between the Grande Ronde River and the Minam-Wallowa River. Our driveway still has ice and a thin covering of snow, and the fields have remnant drifts a foot high. Underneath the mature Ponderosa pine the ground is open and soft.
February is almost a separate season - not quite winter, not yet spring. It is a time of waiting.
At night I listen to the owls, more active now. I saw the first kestrel on Good Road; it will be over a month before they return to their nest site here. Redtail hawks circle overhead in pairs. The band of juvenile "wild" turkeys that had been terrorizing my bird feeder finally wandered off.
I am waiting for the first redwing blackbird to return to our ponds, the first of the seasonal migrants. Every February they show up and stake out their portion of frozen cattail and ice. I am waiting for the first buttercup to splash yellow against the small rock outcrop that faces southwest to the Blue Mountains.
After redwings and buttercups will come an increasingly harried parade of summer visitors, in orderly procession one after another, until May when there is a mad scramble as all the latecomers arrive together.
But for now I wait.