The Southeastern Wildlife Exposition, always a much-anticipated celebration of nature's wonders, is particularly welcome this year. In addition to art exhibits and animal demonstrations, it is forecast to come with warmer temperatures - and maybe even some sun - after two days of bone-chilling temperatures, closed bridges and falling ice. From cabin fever to a big party, from leftover chicken casserole on TV tables to seared fish with oyster mushrooms in the temperate outdoors. And from watching The Weather Channel to watching dogs launch themselves from a 40-foot dock into a pool of water.

Certainly guests will have horror stories to tell. Thousands of people lost power. The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, once again, was closed far longer than many of the people who wanted to cross it thought necessary.

Schools were closed, leaving parents to scramble for child care. And finding dry firewood was a daunting challenge.

But people will be telling those tales as they sip beer, chew gourmet jerky and find the perfect painting to hang over the mantel.

SEWE offers more than 40,000 attendees experiences in arts, education and conservation. It has an economic impact on the area of about $50 million, and puts nearly $2.8 million in state and local tax coffers.

And it's fun to see everything from birds of prey soaring to fly fishing demonstrations, from dogs retrieving to music, cooking and puppet shows.

Were it not for SEWE, this would be just another winter weekend.

But instead, it is a party - and, this year, a mutually enjoyable way to celebrate Valentine's Day.

And, presumably, a pleasant way to celebrate the end of dreary weather - at least for a while.