Monday, February 11, 2008

Flora and Fauna of Regency Britain -February


I thought we might start with the naturlists description of February.

...all Nature is wrapped in a robe of dazzling whiteness; and the ‘bitter-biting cold’ showers of sleet, and sudden gusts of wind, drive us to our homes for shelter, against the inclemency of the season. They sudden thaws, also, which take place in February, --the return of frost and snow—and the change again to rain and sleet, contribute to render this month particularly unfavourable to the pedestrian and the lover of out-of-door exercise and amusements.


If you are researching weather in a particular period/month, you might find the this link helpful. What I learned for a variety of February's in this period was that the norm of temperature was about -2C that snow was an occurrence, but heavy snow was always an even worthy of note and that tempteratures fluctuated above and below the norm. I think that frost was much more common that snow. Heavy snow was anything more than a sprinkle.

It must also be remembered that houses were heated with wood or coal burning fires, so your front would be warm and your back cold, that frost would build up on the windowpanes. My husband can remember waking up as a child in the days before central heating with frost on his pillow. There were no down jackets or waterproof boots. You will see something else in the picture of the carter. Wind. England tends to have high winds in Fall and Winter. Gales are often mentioned.

So although it wasn't much colder in England than it is today, it was more difficult to keep warm. Chilblains were a problem for sure. The further north you went, the more snow and of course the colder it became. But nothing like the freezing temperatures here in the North of North America, which of course begs the question about how the pioneers lived. Lots of furs, I suspect.

Okay, so that is the weather, and what about flora and fauna I hear you muttering. Well not much is going on in the natural world, but February is the start of Spring in England. Snowdrops appear, because it really isn't that cold. I had to do a recheck on that because Wiki said something about soldiers in the Crimea, but snowdrops are listed by our Naturlist as something one would find in 1826, so we are safe. whew. I really liked this picture which shows birds and a beloved favorite of childhood the catkin, the flower of the hazel tree, which later produces hazelnuts (like a filbert). Catkins are also known as lambs tails.

The other thing one might see is February, during our time were lambs. Lambing did indeed start in February.

My final entry is
About the beginning of the month, the woodlark, one of our earliest and sweetest songsters, renews his note.

Their habitat was heathland. The male has one of the finest bird songs in Britain, a liquid, flute-like descending song.


Well, I could probably ramble on, but I hope you have enjoyed this glimpse into February, and will join me again as we continue our ramble through Bath, and whatever else takes my fancy over the next little while.

And since my new anthology is out, Satin and Snakeskin in Brides of the West, though not a regency, it is a historical, I am going to offer a free copy to one of my blogreaders. Just in time for Valentine's day. Be daring, leave a comment, and I will draw from a hat.

Until next time, Happy Rambles.