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.
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?
As I have said for years, “If we didn’t suffer thru winter how could we enjoy the beauty of spring?”
Way back in 1820, a sort of famous poet, Shelley, said,”If winter comes, can spring be far behind?” Days like today make us want to take that question and its implied optimism and, well, do something evil, perhaps something close to violent. February has been a long, long month already, and even though abbreviated, it isn’t yet half over. Something has to be done about this! To get through the month, I agree, flowers will help. Anything bright and sunny and daffodil like does the job. My on-going tradition is to always bring out the spring home decorations on the 16th of this month. I have a very nice bouquet of silk daffodils that sit in a glavanized sprinkling can on the hall table. As I walk downstairs, that shouts out spring to me. If flowers don’t work magic for you, there’s always scented candles, some spring like flowery scent. Enough of that spicey, cinnamony, winter smell wafting from the tart burner. I go with a floral scent. Another way I get through this month is by spending the time on some self indulgent pampering. I find my orange stick and some fancy nail polish, get the nail scissors and do the pedicure thing. No one will ever see my toes, but when I get a glimpse of them, I know that better days will soon follow. I also knit a lot in February. Once spring gets here, and I hear it will, I’m way too busy with yard work and such to have the time I need for my knitting projects. So, February is always the month of the knitting frenzy. However a person is able to approach it, this is the month that tests our sanity and demands that we use our imaginations to keep ourselves busy. If we don’t, that spiral of despair is sure to hit us hard. And, no one needs that! Today, in my home, I did see a sure sign of spring. Yes, in the middle of the rain storm, as that wet stuff came down in torrents that rivaled the deluge, I looked out the window to see how much flooding really was going on in the backyard. And, to my surprise, I saw two of the koi in our fish pond swimming in circles. Yes, those very same fish who lived under that sheet of ice for the past 6 weeks were out checking out their neighborhood. This energized me to the point that I started some much needed basement cleaning. I’m not suggesting basement cleaning as a means of getting through this dark month, but while cleaning, I found the hummingbird feeder that I’ve been looking for since November. So, I’m taking all the events of today and turning them into some sort of sign that life will soon turn brighter.
I think i was lost after “paradisical bali”….. think I’ll just hang out there until all the buds bloom around here…………..by the by…….. i have what i think is a very good guess as to the identity of “Guess”…….. heard the voice and saw the face…. SWAK.
hmm, vam, does guess live in your time zone or mine? i was thinking mine, but now i think you think yours….right? oh, anyway, happy valentines day people. whole bunches of hearts round here this wintry morning. snowed last night. first thing i thought: oh, goody, my valentine laced on the trees!my boys woke up to the usual trail of construction paper hearts from their beds down to the kitchen table, which was awash in strawberries and raspberries (on sale, baby, at the store this week–do NOT tell barbara kingsolver i bought some), pink and red m&ms, cinnamon-swirl loaf, and even more home-glittered valentines. sending love and hearts out beyond the table….
We’re feasting on strawberries today too – organic ones, doncha know. My youngest wanted to buy the incredibly beautiful large strawberries that were for dipping into chocolate and were $14.99!!! for a little package and weren’t organic. Strawberries in February is one sure-fire way to beat the winter blues even if its against the locavore code.
A chunk o’ chocolate helps. In the mucky month.
i heard the most provocative clip of michael pollan–the food politics writer whose prose makes me drool and whose brain inspires me. he was talking about how we need to make choices–if we can afford to–about how we spend our food money v. what other things we spend money on, and how maybe we could cut back in other places in order to put our money into foods grown through practices healthier for the earth and healthier for us. i’ve long used the argument that i couldn’t afford most organic food, so i buy what i can organically, and then wish for the rest. he makes the point that maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to turn away from organics and maybe take a harder look at other nooks and crannies of our lives so we can live what we believe. he also made interesting points about how all the corn fructose products are the cheaper ones in the store because for so many generations those were the crops getting the federal subsidies. how strange, he said, that organic broccoli is a luxury and deep-fried corn chips are not…just an interesting line of thought as we talk about strawberries in winter…..your thoughts?
Down here in this neck of the woods, organic is definitely catching on………..becoming much more mainstream…… but that is what it will take, the people who insist on organic……..the more it is demanded, the more suppliers will fill that demand, the cheaper the organics will become because of competition in the marketplace if nothing else……. I work at a local ‘natural marketplace’ and despite the ‘economic downturn’ our daily receipts have hardly been impacted….. Once you’ve made the decision, it is hard to go back to the conventional produce, meats, and grains that have for so long been a part of our daily intake…….. My store won’t even carry products that contain GMOs (genetically modified organisms)….. Genetically modified food? whose idea was that!? I can only speak of what i know, but my store, while more expensive for a some items, remains pretty competitve price wise, and when the difference is small enough the argument is gone….. A great resource for information is ‘New Good Food’ by Margaret M. Whittenberg……. New Frontiers, where i work, uses this book for training its employees. it contains a wealth of information for anyone confused by, or just interested in healthy alternatives to the ‘mainstream’ food choices we have all (well, most of us) grown up with…..and just FYI…here are the top fruits and vegetables that you should ‘try’ to buy organic….. because they contain the highest concentration of pesticides when conventionally grown:1. Peaches2. Apples3. Sweet Bell Peppers4. Celery5. Nectarines6. Strawberries7. Cherries8. Lettuce9. Grapes (imported)10. Pearsps bam…..’Guess’ is definitely in your time zone, i didn’t even finish the ‘blog’ comment and knew………
PPS…….MICHAELLLLLLL…….that should read ‘chunk o’ORGANIC chocolate’ in this mucky month :)(preferably 69% dark chocolate, yum, maybe with a little orange peel, yummmmy)
OK, it started with the bad weather, then someone brought up chocolate, so I’ll go off further off on this tangent and say an organic 99% dark chocolate bar I received from my family on Father’s Day definitely lifted my spirits. Caution: 99% is not for the timid. I’m talkin’ DARK. That reminds me of another story….
99% chocolate … are you serious? Didn’t even know it existed, being a milk chocolate kinda gal …………..