Life in New Hampshire is such that when the end of January comes along, many of us look pale, tired and have large dark circles under our eyes. Others are sick, have been sick or are getting sick. Many are irritable, between vacations and stuck inside without recesses because somewhere along the line we stopped letting our kids out to recess if it goes below 32 degrees. We LIVE here! Let the kids out, if even for 10 minutes to get blasted and blessed with some fresh air, be it arctic air to bring them back to life disperse some of those germs into the great outdoors.
So this year it occurred to me that everyone looks and is “Januaryied”. Yes, Januaryied. It is my new verb and the funniest part is that when I ask the simple question, “Are you Januaryied?” most just respond with a look of “why yes, I am totally Januaryied.” No explanation needed.
It is at this time that most of us dream of white sandy beaches, palm trees and yes those lovely drinks with umbrellas in them. And in this age of Face book we can see others who ARE on sandy beaches, wearing bathing suits, and nursing sunburns…oh the sting of envy is a painful one indeed.
We can’t help ourselves. We are stuck in the tundra with no escape from the frigid temperatures we have lived in and through, with smatterings of 45 degree days that melt away the snow leaving the next frigid 10 below day with ice everywhere and very little white snow to adorn much of anything, leaving bare, grey tree branches poking the underbelly of the sky. It is dreary. It is forever grey. It is January.
But alas, we made it through January and now find ourselves in February. And this February has been a doozy. Another day, another snowstorm and what used to feel magical now just seems like another chore that has to be dealt with. Snow shoveling, roof raking to avoid those incessant ice dams, and clearing off the car just one more time before leaving. February, where one would think we are that much closer to the end of the long winter. The days begin to lengthen and one can actually see outside at 5 o’clock.
This winter I have attempted to walk my dog, Ruby where I end up in the field in time to watch the sun set. I can’t see sunset from my house, and this new routine has allowed me to see that additional minute or so that we begin to gather each day. What I have noticed most is the light, the evening light that inspired this poem:
In The Blue Hour of Evening Light
comes too soon
against the blue hued
mounds of snow
the light no longer lingers
but quickly dips and dives
into the warmth of the horizon
a glowing luminous light
proclaiming the passing of yet
hangs in the distance
as my cold feet stand rooted
in the deep snow holding me tight
from diving down to catch the light
and hold onto it desperate to
keep the dark away
casts short shadows that
play with the snowlight
broadcasting indescribable pinks, purples
and so many hues of blues
for all to watch
if they are looking
evening light is the light I choose
to walk the pup
to pay homage to the end
of yet another day
to rejoice in day’s visit
that lingered a little bit longer today
I dream of your summer stays
when I come to life
and I can dillydally with you
into the night.
There is hope in February and that hope is even better when coupled with a bonus snow day like today. Kids are giddy with the prospect of no school as they wait in anticipation of that final phone call, or these days, tweets! Teachers can take a breath and slow down and let their defenses down for a day of home in an effort to ward off all of those nasty bugs, and flu’s spread so easily within the brick and mortar of schools where kids are constantly coughing, sneezing and wiping their noses on their sleeves. Man, those noses just never seem to stop running. Blech!
I still get that excitement about a snow day because a snow day is a lazy day: it gives me permission to read and write and build a fire and just “be” all day long. Like a kid I can’t wait to go out into the newly fallen whiteness and feel the wonderful moisture in the air. Snow is magical again. And as much as I have been dreaming of those warmer climates, I don’t know if I could ever imagine living in a place where there was never snow! But if you ask me this when I am Januaryied, you can be sure my answer will be that I can’t wait for the day when I move to a warmer year-round climate, where I don’t have to endure the harsh, frigid everydayness of winter.
And so in honor of this snow day I leave you with Billy Collins and his poem, Snow Day. Enjoy.
Today we woke up to a revolution of snow,
its white flag waving over everything,
the landscape vanished,
not a single mouse to punctuate the blankness,
and beyond these windows
the government buildings smothered,
schools and libraries buried, the post office lost
under the noiseless drift,
the paths of trains softly blocked,
the world fallen under this falling.
In a while, I will put on some boots
and step out like someone walking in water,
and the dog will porpoise through the drifts,
and I will shake a laden branch
sending a cold shower down on us both.
But for now I am a willing prisoner in this house,
a sympathizer with the anarchic cause of snow.
I will make a pot of tea
and listen to the plastic radio on the counter,
as glad as anyone to hear the news
that the Kiddie Corner School is closed,
the Ding-Dong School, closed.
the All Aboard Children’s School, closed,
the Hi-Ho Nursery School, closed,
along with—some will be delighted to hear—
the Toadstool School, the Little School,
Little Sparrows Nursery School,
Little Stars Pre-School, Peas-and-Carrots Day School
the Tom Thumb Child Center, all closed,
and—clap your hands—the Peanuts Play School.
So this is where the children hide all day,
These are the nests where they letter and draw,
where they put on their bright miniature jackets,
all darting and climbing and sliding,
all but the few girls whispering by the fence.
And now I am listening hard
in the grandiose silence of the snow,
trying to hear what those three girls are plotting,
what riot is afoot,
which small queen is about to be brought down.