Spend Valentine’s Day in Nature

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Celebrate Your Love of Nature this Valentine’s Day. 

Need a reason to love February? In this shortest of months, we’ll gain over an hour of daylight in the Chicago region. Beginning the month at just over 10 hours for the first time since last fall, the rate of increase accelerates noticeably in February, closing out at nearly 11 hours and 15 minutes of welcome sun.   

Longer days aren’t the only things to look forward to; there’s also Valentine’s Day. Here are some ways to celebrate your love of nature on this winter holiday: 

Watch the sunset. Colder air holds less moisture and haze, allowing for the year’s the most vibrant color show. Mid-level clouds are most common in winter, providing a backdrop and reflecting the light. Plus, the sharp angle of the winter sun means these bold sunsets last longer. Pause to watch this beautiful show whether your view is unobstructed or through the bare branches of trees.  

Walk along the beach. Dress for the wind and delight at the wintry scape. Lake Michigan can be otherworldly this time of year. Familiar sandy shores are transformed by frigid waves and ice formations into seemingly alien lands. Take in a sunrise at the lakefront to really appreciate the scene. Getting there in the dark, frosty predawn will be hard, but you won’t regret it.  

Go birding. Leafless trees offer the best chance to spy winter residents. Juncos, woodpeckers, chickadees and cardinals can be seen foraging throughout the park. Cardinals are especially vibrant this time of year, owing to a nuance of feather-wear—the grey tips of fall’s new feathers have worn, leaving only bright red plumage. Lucky for us, it offers a stunningly cheerful sight whether the background is snowy branches or bleak sky.    

Cook with local ingredients. Though the variety and abundance of local ingredients hits its lowest ebb at this time of year, there is still a plethora to make scrumptious use of. You can find a bevy of meat and dairy, storage crops like potatoes, carrots, and onions and even the last of the winter squash waiting to be drizzled with maple syrup or honey (also local!) and roasted for you and your loved ones. You’ll be supporting healthy food systems in our region while eating fabulously well.   

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