top of page


"If Candlemas be fair and bright, come winter, have another flight. If Candlemas bring clouds and rain, go winter, and come not again." - English folk song

If a day to predict the arrival of spring weather sounds familiar, it probably calls to mind Groundhog Day. However, for centuries, February 2nd was celebrated as a Christian Feast Day known as Candlemas.

The day also bore significance outside of Christianity, marking the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. It was celebrated as an ancient Roman festival of light.

The name "Candlemas" refers to the traditional processions and blessing of candles that came to characterize the feast day. It also is called the Feast of the Presentation, because it honors the day that Mary and Joseph presented the infant Jesus at the Temple according to Mosaic law.

Candlemas Day was always celebrated on February 2, exactly 40 days after Christmas on December 25th. Mosaic law stated that 40 days was the period of purification time after the birth of a child.

Candlemas also presented an opportunity to predict weather. According to the New England Historical Society, New Englanders who once lived in old houses looked at how far the sun would shine in through cracks in the structure to determine how far the snow would continue to blow in through to the month of May.

Like many religious celebrations, Candlemas has a secular alternative in Groundhog Day. Groundhog Day was first recognized in the United States during the late 1800s and was popularized in Pennsylvania by German settlers who had their own Candlemas Day rhymes related to the weather. The Germans connected weather prognostication to the local hedgehog. When German immigrants arrived in America, there were no hedgehogs, so they used the groundhog, the closest representative animal they could find. The tradition grew so popular it was eventually commercialized. Thousands began to flock to Punxsutawney, PA, to watch Punxsutawney Phil make his prediction.

Today Groundhog Day is anticipated each year as millions of people eagerly await to see if winter will last six more weeks or if spring warmth will arrive sooner rather than later.

Backyard sheds can be useful assets. Sheds can create storage space in the garage, basement or other areas of the house that have become gathering spots for gear typically used outdoors. Sheds are ideal for housing mowers, tools and even pool-care equipment.

But they can be put to other uses as well, such as being key spots to engage in hobbies or even as a child's clubhouse.

Various factors should be considered before building or buying a shed. A storage shed can be a significant investment. Once placed, sheds may remain in their dedicated spots for years to come. That means careful thought should go into the planning process.

1. Choose placement wisely. Spend several days assessing the yard and thinking about the uses for the shed. If you plan to store pool floats and chemicals inside of the shed, it should be located close enough to the pool to be convenient. Look at the lay of the land. If there is a soggy patch of land that can turn swampy under the shed's foundation, that is a poor location choice. If you need access to electricity, placing it far away from the house could necessitate running expensive wiring.

2. Consider the design. Just because a shed is for storage doesn't mean aesthetics should be overlooked. Choose a shed style that complements your home. You may also want to match certain architectural features, like arched doorways or dormers. Design also may relate to practicality. For instance, storing a riding mower inside may necessitate dual doors that open widely.

3. Prepare the site well. A proper foundation for the shed is almost as important as the shed itself. You cannot just drop the shed on the lawn and leave it, as the shed can sink or structural issues may arise if it is placed on a weak base.

4. Blend into the environment. Surround the shed with shrubs or plants so that it blends into the yard and complements the space.

5. Deck out the interior. Use every storage tool at your disposal to maximize floor, wall and even rafter space for storage. Plan where items will be kept and customize the storage options around those locations.

Sheds can be an asset and improve storage capability in the backyard.

The pristine, white backdrop of a snowy winter day can be a wonder to behold. While fresh snow on the ground can make for awe-inspiring landscapes, the absence of greenery amid the starkness of winter poses challenges for animals that do not ride out winter in a state of hibernation.

Several bird species stay in colder climates over the winter. Red-winged crossbills, snow buntings, bohemian waxwings, evening grosbeaks, and cardinals are just some of the birds one may find while gazing outside on a chilly winter's day. Birding in the winter can be a rewarding hobby because, despite the chilly conditions, birds tend to be easy to find in bare trees. Furthermore, the colder temperatures may keep many people inside, meaning neighborhoods, trails and parks can be very quiet, making it easier for those who brave the cold to see birds.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds indicates that winter is a difficult time of year for birds due to the weather and the scarcity of food. Furthermore, birds must consume a lot of food in a short amount of time to have the energy and body warmth to survive each day. Even birds that store food in caches or have developed special scavenging strategies to find as much food as possible can benefit from a little wintertime help. Penn State Extension suggests providing a variety of foods to attract the greatest number of species. Small, black-oil sunflower seeds are preferred by many smaller species of bird and have a high oil content that is nutritionally important for birds. Other sunflower seeds will be appropriate for blue jays and cardinals. Some other popular foods include white proso millet, thistle seed, niger seed, and peanuts.

Consult a wild bird store, which likely sells a birdseed mix that enables you to place a variety of seed into one feeder. In addition to seed, suet, which is made from high-quality animal fat, is crucial for birds in the winter. Families can get crafty by spreading peanut butter onto pine cones and sprinkling seed on top. Hang the pine cones tied to pieces of string from tree branches for homemade feeders.

Birds likely need a little help surviving the winter, when conditions can be bleak. Offering food and observing backyard visitors can be a great way to unwind on winter afternoons.

bottom of page