february, framed

by bam

ah, yes, there it is, this miserable month at its most exposed: the whole topography of assaults, framed.

you see the snows retreating. the snows we thought would never ever stop. and thus, the detritus of winter, buried there, all those long weeks, is now–thanks to rare warm winds–revealed in all its gritty truths. peeled back. our winter sins laid bare.

my front yard, in fact, has unearthed a burying ground that suggests these things: someone in the neighborhood was havin’ hanky-panky, for they left their box of, um, supplies emptied at the border of my yard (i do not think the old stooped man who lives next door might have tossed it there); further, many, many folks did not think it necessary to scoop behind their pooch; and at least one someone was out there slicing bathroom tile into messy chalky bits (oh, wait, that was us). oops.

now, on top of all the dirt and soggy leaves and beat-up bird seed, there comes a february morning’s rain that’s gone from drizzle to downpour in just a few scant hours.

it is so unrelentingly dreary out there it makes me want to crawl under the bed and not come out till, hmm, how ’bout that far-off, fictive, balmy afternoon when the sun will be golden (not glaringly white, as it is when it dares to show nowadays) and easy like melted butter? when you’d have to be no longer breathing to not notice the uptick in the old earth’s pulse?

until that day that faith (and a little bit of globe-spinning science) tells us will come again, i think i’ll make like the groundhog and head back into my hole under the bushes.

what if we, like grizzlies and chipmunks and even spiders, were allowed to–heck, hard-wired to–spend our winter with our eyes sealed shut, and our snooze buttons scotch-taped temporarily into snooze position?

what if we weren’t expected to endure this annual misfortune, when our eyes want to turn inside out to keep from taking in the gloom? and our souls slink in line and take a number, hoping to be recycled, stuffed inside, say, a villager on the shores of lake batur, conveniently plunked down in the midst of paradisical bali?

instead, alas, we are left to do what we can to keep ourselves from getting pinned to the mat that is winter unrelieved.

now if all was snow and ice, i really don’t think i’d be complaining. i hold not a single grudge against white-on-white, the sin-less tableau. it’s this yanking back and forth, the sudden intrusion of mound-melting warmth that makes for climatological whiplash.

just get it over with, i say. do not dilly-dally here with days so warm the snow gets scared and shrinks into a puddle.

i’m not one to mind a day that’s gray. it’s when the ground is flecked with bits of mushy brown, and chards of black, and specks the color of a sooty chimney, that’s the equation that sets my skin to quivering. like a half-plucked hen, i am. cluckin’ mad and sassy in the henyard. scamperin’ here and there, looking for a hole to get me outa here.

ah, but there’s no escape.

so we are left to endure.

to make the most of these days in the month cut short, thanks to pompous emperor augustus, that roman show-off who highjacked a day from february to stick it onto august, the month so shamelessly named after him.

here’s a short survival list, in hopes we can hobble through till landscapes come in a color we can handle, white or green preferred.

eat strawberries.

or, in a pinch, merely stare at them. your friendly produce chap will sympathize if you simply whisper in his ear, let on as to how desperate you are for a vernal reprieve.

cut out paper valentines.

for extra fun, squiggle them with glue, then shake on glitter and watch it stick. this will get you through at least one long february afternoon.

stare out the window and wait for a plump red cardinal to land in a bush. on second thought, scratch that. you’ll notice the unrelenting gray-on-gray-on-gray and tumble deeply down in the dumps.

pour a fat cup of tea. steal away with the very most delicious book from the stack by your bed, the one that threatens to topple and knock you unconscious while you sleep. hmm, how do you know you’re unconscious when you are sleeping? see, february stirs such puzzles.

ditch it all and slink into the tub. don’t come out till your fingers look like raisins, a trick we love to play around here. anyone know the biochemistry of shriveled fingertips? just curious is all, and i have a little one who put that question to me just the other night.

sneak out to the store and buy a pot of daffodils. not the one-dollar bunch that will die in just days, but a pot–$2.99 at my grocery store–that’ll bloom like a teensy-weensy garden for at least a whole week, moving us that much closer to the next dreary month in the line-up.

pray for snow. but don’t tell your friends, because they might pummel you with snowballs once your wishes come true and it pours forth from the heavens.

lastly, move to new zealand, where february is the height of summer, veering toward autumn, the most flawless season that ever there was.

what gets you through the mucky month of winter exposed?