There is an unusual tradition held each year in a Pennsylvania town that’s based on an old German legend. On February 2nd each year, a groundhog determines whether we’ll have another six weeks of winter or if spring will be early! Groundhog Day has been happening in Punxsutawney, PA for the last 134 years and this year, Punxsutawney Phil foresaw an early spring.

Groundhog Day isn’t the only celebration of winter slowly coming to an end and spring starting to arrive. Imbolc, for example, is an old Gaelic holiday and is celebrated on February 1st and 2nd, the midpoint between the winter solstice on December 21st and the spring equinox on March 21st. This pagan sabbat is celebrated as the first stirrings of spring, the time when the end of winter is within reach.

Now that we’re more than halfway done with February 2020, spring is closer than ever before. And after a particularly dreary and rainy winter here in the Pacific Northwest, spring is gladly welcomed in my opinion. While we still have some time before the official start of spring, there are plenty of things to do during this time of the year. This can be a great time to get your garden ready if you’re able and/or willing to have one this year and there are plenty of flowers you can plant in early spring. The Old Farmer’s Almanac also has a list of easy vegetables to plant in early spring. Or you can get ready for spring hikes or trips with your pet!

If you are planning a garden, consider planting flowers or other plants that are good for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. Native plants like some sunflowers, wild strawberries, and the California poppy are great for pollinators and people alike. Your local nursery, if there’s one nearby, might have some other suggestions of native plants and flowers that do well in your area! A quick online search of ‘plant nurseries near me’ can help bring up some local businesses.

Butterfly and bee friendly gardens can really make a difference for these vital pollinators. Monarch butterflies, for example, are having a tougher time because of climate change, urban development, and changes to their habitats. But having some butterfly friendly plants, structures, or shallow water dishes in your garden can really help.

If you don’t have access to a yard/garden or are unable to maintain one, there are other ways you can get ready for spring! You can volunteer with your local Parks and Rec department to remove invasive plant species in nearby parks. Or you can make and distribute seed bombs (little balls of clay, soil, and seeds). Seed bombs are particularly great because they’re relatively easy to make (albeit a bit messy) and easy to carry around. I can’t recommend just flinging seed bombs everywhere and anywhere, as you might not know if some plants would be okay in certain areas. But in gardens, yards, along some trails, and some fields, seed bombs are an easy way to plant flowers.

Ultimately, this time of the year is a reminder that lighter days will be here soon. Winter may not be officially over yet but spring is slowly creeping in. What are your favorite things or traditions to do in the springtime?