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01 February, 2014


The Mountain in February, as seen through a donut o' snow.

People love to hate February. Once the Superbowl is over, so is the American patience with Winter, no more holidays, just dreary months ahead before things warm up. I had a friend who whined through the whole month last year, and the sentiment is widespread. A Winter's worth of griping gets packed into 28 days.

Oh well.

I like February. Around here, it's one of our many Springs. Bulbs are popping up, alliums putting on growth in the lengthening days. Even on the colder Plateau, this month is when the first of the First Foods emerge. The days have been getting longer since December, but the light of January is still just a slanting sliver. In February, we're halfway to Equinox, and they days are finally brighter enough to notice, especially is we're graced with the Week of Gleaming Sun that pries open most Salish Winters.

Snow donuts, pretty even on a cloudy day.
Not that the only things February has to offer are meteorological. There's 42 Day, when you can celebrate anything or nothing, or maybe throw a Burt Reynolds themed party in honor of the mustache legend's birthday. The usual February also lays claim to being the only month that presents a nice neat four-week package. No other month is so in synch with the lunar cycle.

Then there's February 29th, a day so precious it comes but once a quadrenniad. An extra day, and a reminder of February's trickster nature. Not pinned down to a particular duration, an extra "r" whose pronunciation confuses many (it's mastery requires subtle refinement, and is an aural secret handshake to the non-deaf cogniscenti). February can lull you with a beautiful day or grind you down with a rough one.

What? Am I admitting that February days can be cold, that the weight of prior months of Winter does not press down on this diminutive month? Yeah, I guess I am.

But then I'm a stoic, to a degree. If all you can do in the face of sub-ideal conditions is whine about them, then by all means, enjoy your misery. If the only way you can deal with the tail end of Winter is by looking ahead toward some imaginary Utopian Spring, then fine, but you're missing Now. I get some grim satisfaction from staring down the cold rain and knowing I'll outlast it. There is joy in crouching down on creaky joints and reaching fingers into the earth again, dead frigid as it may feel now, clearing the first weeds and planting the first seeds (without some toil, that Spring won't be so idyllic).

I know the temptation is there to scapegoat February for all your long-Winter, post-Holiday blues, but try to enjoy it. Small beauties emerge this month, the Trickster is planting surprises. You'll get through it just fine.

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