CHARLES McDOWELL should not get away with putting a bum; rap on February as he did in last Sunday's Post [Outlook: "Only 8 More Weeks 'Til February Ends," by Charles McDowell]. It was a vicious, unwarranted, ill-tempered attack on perhaps the greatest month of all. To label February with such loaded adjectives as "weariest," dreariest" and "bleakest" cannot go unchallenged.

It's not because February is the month of my birth or that it is dear to the hearts of Pisceans that I rise to February's defense. February can stand on its own chilled feet and may just be our finest month.

Consider these facts:

It comes between January, the dead of winter, and March, the tail-end of winter. Thus it is a month of blessed transition -- get through February and it is all downhill. That's not a negative; that's a positive.

February is a guaranteed month. It is our shortest. No guessing, no fooling around. It doesn't play games. One doesn't have to come up with silly rhymes ("Thirty days hath . . ."). By God, it is the shortest period.

It rivals July as most patriotic. Washington and Lincoln were born in February. Now top that, Charlie. The nation is united on George. Everyone buys him as Hero No. 1. Even Washington birthday sales remind us of February's greatness. Washington's birthday -- in February -- even provides us with one of those precious long weekends.

St. Valentine's Day comes in February. Perhaps that's what is troubling Charlie. Didn't he get one this year?

Days begin to get longer in February. All of a sudden there's more daylight in February -- one of the glories of our lives.

Weatherwise? February is midwinter, but it's always good to us, it seems. We're constantly saying, "No snow in February, but wait till March." February is kind. (Ever hear any rhymes about February winds bring April showers . . .?)

February is a month which brings some sanity back. Congress goes into session in January, we begin to get bogged down by all the heavy action and then comes the February holiday break -- Congress goes home -- and we know nothing's changed.

The idea that February is responsible for Charlie's dilemmas -- shoe-lace breaking, smoking fireplaces, dead batteries, etc. -- is simply unforgivable.

Better Charlie should buy loafers, use the Post instead of the Richmond Times-Dispatch in his fireplace and tell the auto lot attendant to switch off his lights.

For those of us fortunate to have a special kinship to February, he has slandered our pride and joy -- our month. We're Piscean and we're kind and sensitive, loving and caring.

We can also be nasty. Watch out, Charlie!