Every 4 years

30 days has September
April, June, and November
All the rest have 31
Except that quite contrary
February
That has 28 most of the time
But in Leap Year 29!

This childhood ditty crosses my mind often in February. Every 4 years, we get an extra day! Okay, so while I know that the space-time continuum does not allow for the actual creation of an extra 24 hours, somehow, I seem to entertain the thought that Leap Year provides a bonus day (Leap Day) each February to spend however I choose (don’t even ask me about the ‘extra’ hour when we change to and from daylight savings time).
Observances
So, every 4 years I savor an additional 24 hours to spend in any way I want. I think of pursuits enjoyable (anything related to plants) or not so enjoyable (collecting information online for upcoming tax deadlines). For this blog, let’s focus on the enjoyable – plants. This time of year in Colorado most plants are dormant or under a foot of snow making it a challenge for botanical aficionados to get a fix. However, a veritable journey of vegetation is a close as my computer (you had to know this was going to circle back to Season Spotter, didn’t you?). Yep, with Season Spotter I can look at vegetated landscapes (some still with plenty of snow cover) any time of the year. And help scientists with the PhenoCam network at the same time.

This leap year, I am going to spend some of my bonus day searching the images on Season Spotter to find clues to the story plants can tell us about changing climates. I invite you to do the same.

Some fun facts about Leap Year and Contrary February

  • Not surprisingly, given this is a Season Spotter blog, there is a seasonal aspect to Leap Year! To keep the calendar year synchronized with the astronomical or seasonal calendar, a Leap Year contains an additional day.
  • A year that is not a Leap Year is called a Common Year.
  • In Irish and British historical law, women may propose in Leap Years.  And if the man rejected the proposal? A law (supposedly dating back to 1288) required him to provide the proposer with a pair of leather gloves, a single rose, £1 and a kiss! In Finland, the man rejecting the proposal gets off a bit easier. He only has to provide the fabrics for a skirt (interesting alternative to the money, rose, and kiss).
  • In some parts of the United States, February 29 is referred to as Sadie Hawkins Day when women have been known to propose marriage.
  • In Greece, couples often avoid marrying in a Leap Year. It is considered unlucky.
  • Since 1980, La Bougie du Sapeur, a satirical French newspaper is published only on February 29 (once every 4 years).
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