This February is a month of collecting myself and truly beginning the year in earnest. So much of January was spent in recovery from the holidays, from expectations and disappointments, not to mention from consolation pies and cakes and the subsequent onslaught of belated resolutions. February, on the other hand, is already charged with intensity, productivity, plates and plates of green vegetables, and with the promise of brighter days ahead.
If you live in New England like I do, you hold no illusions about spring being just around the next corner--or the corner after that. In fact, in this part of the world it's easy to think of February as nothing but a month of mud and slush and bitter cold, but the days are growing longer, and even on the chilliest of afternoons, there's a robin or two going about his business on a small patch of mossy grass that the sun has decided to hit just enough to melt the snow. Indeed, when I look closely, I see February for what it really is. It's there in the piecrust edge of ice just above the surface of a stream or in a flash of sunlight through bare branches on a back road, delicate as a bit of Valentine's lace.
For me, the best way to feel the subtle promise of February is to walk outside each day, even when it's bitter cold, and to return to the same paths and streams and trees to note the shifts of light and the feel of the earth beneath my feet. Yesterday as we walked along the edge of the Concord River where the banks have overflowed and frozen, the ice moaned and cracked as if a river monster were just beneath the surface, heaving himself up against the hard roof of his world.
With each day now there will be a few minutes more of light; the sun will climb higher; and the river monster will eventually get his way. But first, we'll watch the frozen lace on the marshes and streams flirt with the water below it, some days growing, other days receding, until finally (sometime around June, I think!) it will return to the water once and for all.
Here's to February, to sunlight, and to love.