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February is the earth's stirring with the first restlessness of the season.

Each time the cold relaxes its grip and each time the storm-spilling, dark nimbus clouds break away to blue skies and the white cumulus masses, the new season takes a firmer grip and hitches itself upward toward spring.February is one's feeling winter's patience. One can feel the quiet acceptance of winter in the groves of trees in City Creek Canyon, one hears it in the subdued murmurings of the branches overhead, a soft conversation that says the trees are waiting patiently for the miracle of rebirth that is on the way.

It is, indeed, a time of patience, the season's lesson for one attuned to the verities of life. February can be and is contradictory, but each day the calendar chips off a sliver of shrinking winter.

February is peace and quiet, a tidy good order, a chance to learn and do some thinking about what's important . . . It is to develop wonderful new house plants. When the work is well done, these indoor exhibits can be as breath-taking as the outdoor garden.

February is rivulets running from the roof and down the sloping driveway. It is the sun coursing across a blue sky while crows poke around in the stubble on the nearby vacant lot.

It is the cloud cycle following a definite course - from cumulus to cirrus, cirrus to nimbus - and the nimbus means snow.

February, though it might seem to be the very depths of winter, is elder buds bursting, daffodils growing an inch or more in a week, and starlings trying to strip the buds from the ornamental forsythia signifying a return to more hours of daylight as the earth sets its face away from winter.

- H.L.