February’s promise


We drove home from Sun Valley yesterday in serious Winter.  Wet and heavy snow in Idaho transitioned to ice, in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley, as we ran into the arctic front boundary, and we watched the outside temperature plummet over a few short miles.  On our final stretch before home, NOAA issued a blizzard warning, and there was news that flights could not get into the Kalispell airport because of limited visibility.  At last, we made it home before dark, down our snowy road, mercifully not too deep.  Kitties had hung out on their heating pad in the garage, their food undisturbed by raccoons, and after shoveling the stone steps, we unloaded the car and went into the house, power intact, and furnace pumping out hot air.  That’s called a grand homecoming.

It’s zero in town this morning and forecasted to reach a high of two degrees today, and it’s snowing again, with the possibility of several more inches.  I’ve not heard any planes this morning.  It will be sub-zero every night this week, down to -7 come Saturday.  Serious Winter.  I went way back through my blog posts, to see if this is some errant weather event, for how could it be serious winter as the month of February gets underway!  Sure enough, I’ve written here over the years about hearing red-wing blackbirds in early February, and seeing robins, and catching the scent of geosmin, as the earth’s soil begins to awaken beneath the snow.  And, I’ve also written about feet of snow and bitter arctic air.  Yet, there’s always been a photo, sometime in the month of February, where it looks like winter may have turned.  I follow a lovely blog from Dorset, England, and the writer, Ben Pentreath, talked last week about “the promise of January”, just as everyone is thoroughly depressed and weary of winter as January winds down.  He writes:   “However, just this week, you can enjoy for the first time in the year, the sense of what’s next – and of a beginning, not an ending. It is, after all, this week that we also suddenly step outside at 4.30 in the afternoon and think ‘my god, it’s still daylight, how amazing’, and the dark days of December seem already distant.”

This is a glass half-full versus glass half-empty sort of month.  As I write this morning, the snow is getting heavier and I can hear the house creaking in the cold, and little Chatpeau is wailing on the porch to come inside, remembering the bliss she felt on my lap next to the fire last night.  I’m too cold and creaky to shovel the steps this morning and make it to yoga class, promising myself, instead, to do a home practice in the library, where the soft warm carpet covers the floor, which is just above the basement mechanical room, making it feel like we have radiant floor heat.  This feels like a glass half-full decision.

I think the trick in these February winter days is to follow Ben’s advice, and step outside at 4:30 in the afternoon and say aloud to oneself, ‘my god, it’s still daylight, how amazing’– the dark days of December seem already distant.  And, be alert to the “sense of what’s next – and of a beginning, not an ending.”  I’ll be working on this.

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