Posts Tagged ‘life’

February calendar

I’m hardly the first person to observe, with a certain sense of irony, that February is the longest month.

I might (you never know, the internet is both a Small World and a Big Place), be the first to observe that having a not-really-official-but-hey-I’ve-been-doing-them-since-last-October-haven’t-I? sort of post of monthly observations hanging over one’s head will only make it seem longer.  But also shorter, in that “I’m February, and I can be both” sort of way.

But, leap year, right? That’s a whole extra day in which to… procrastinate.

It was a month for projects that just never quite came together.  I didn’t actually abandon the kitchen completely (despite what I might have said last month), but, well, February.  There were a few successes that I simply lacked time or energy (or daylight) to document; on other projects, I took photographs that I’m happy with, but the recipe itself needed work.  And then there was that one recipe that was a resounding success, absolutely scrumptious, that I did spend a lot of time photographing, but failed utterly to find any way to make it look like something you would actually want to eat.

I did get a lot of reading done…

“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all,” is the phrase that usually ran through my head whenever I tried to come to grips with a February post.


So long, February.  I know we haven’t exactly seen eye to eye, but, while I can’t say I’ll miss you, thanks for the memories.  I think we made real progress, and I’ll try to make the most of our time together when we see each other again next year.

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Slow as… January

Bears and molasses: slow in January

“Slow as molasses in January” is a phrase I often heard my grandmother use when I was little—one of those phrases that lodged in my memory, but without any real comprehension of the significance at the time.   Now, I ‘get’ it, of course; I use molasses in recipes not infrequently, and I understand the effect of cold on syrups.  I suspect, though, that the phrase predates electricity and central heating—when a lot more people had a much more direct experience of molasses and cold.  Our house is old and poorly insulated (I’m wearing a coat as I type this), but it’s still nothing to how cold I imagine it would be if we had to rely on the fireplaces for warmth. (Assuming they were working, that is—they are all long-since closed off, but the mantles remain to show where they once functioned.)

I feel a bit like molasses myself, in January.  There are those who like to jump right into the new year with both feet, and I find this a wholly admirable approach; if the year only started in May, I might try it myself.  But my idea of what to do in the winter is very much a bear’s idea.*  Hole up, and wait it out.  Comfort food (since I haven’t mastered that storing up three months of fat thing—nor, come to think of it, do I want to), and minimal commitments.  Getting holiday messes cleaned up is a good start (I’ve started, does that count?), maybe a bit of virtual housekeeping, such as archiving the 12+ gigs of photographs from 2011 (arg), finally watching those Sherlock DVDs I was given some months ago (loved it!).

Last night we had hot chocolate for dessert.  I am the sort of person who likes to make these things from scratch, but this time I started with a pouch of cocoa mix that had arrived as part of a holiday gift (and made it as far as the kitchen counter, where it was showing signs of putting down roots).  Warmth, sustenance and tidying up after the holidays—now that’s my (January) idea of multitasking!

*Although, truth be told (and money no object), I think the birds have the better plan.

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Oh, look.  Another month year snuck by me.

As predicted, back in October, it’s been a blur.  I’m robbing January to pay December at this point (heck—I might even be borrowing time into February by now), putting off all sorts of things that I shouldn’t be, because there are a hundred others needing to be done now, now, now.  Yesterday.

Almost (but not quite) too busy to notice the cold.

Almost (but not quite) too busy to appreciate the little things that make the cold worthwhile—all the little things that I would miss about Winter if I never saw it again…

The sky was wonderfully crisp last night.  Oh, to be sure, my teeth were chattering, but the sky was gorgeous.  And the sun, to make up for its brevity, shows up in unexpected places now, like painting the pantry with tree branch shadows. We see (and hear) hawks a lot more in the Winter—I could hear one calling outside as I was taking pictures of the tree shadows in the pantry.  And if it weren’t for Winter, I’m convinced that the bugs would have taken over the Earth by now.  And then there’s citrus.  Citrus is not a little thing.  It’s a Big Thing.  You will be seeing more about citrus in the coming days.

I love having seasons, really I do.  I just always seem to be ready for Winter to leave a lot sooner than it’s ready to go.  But for now, there are still a hundred things to do.

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No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds! — 
Thomas Hood

Aging jack-o-lanterns watch the November sun slip away.

It’s pitch dark when I go to work in the morning lately.  Then, when I’m finally off for the day, I get that look in my eye that you’ll sometimes see on the squirrels this time of year—right before they make an ill-timed dash into traffic.  Which, of the hundred things that I wanted to accomplish today, should I do in the little daylight remaining?

My inner squirrel screeches, Just hurry up and do something, because tomorrow will only be shorter!  And colder!

So, this afternoon, I was stirring up a batch of sweet potato bread, when a movement outside the kitchen window caught my eye.  It was a squirrel heading up the driveway, and he was so clearly Up to Something, that I walked over to the window to watch.

He was in no particular hurry—not him.  He zigged, he zagged.  He moved with a singularly purposeful purposelessness.  He stopped often, sitting up to look around—looking everywhere but where I knew him to be heading.  You see, I had only just put the aging jack-o-lanterns outside, not an hour before (best to get them out of doors before they go completely feral, I always say).

Finally, with a last “Who, me? Not me,” look around, the squirrel disappeared from view behind the brush pile (which, coincidentally, happened to be where I’d left the zombie punkins).  I expect they’ll be looking considerably more ragged in the morning…

Before the squirrel came along, the sun had just skulked through the kitchen in much the same fashion.  It moved slowly, casually, but it didn’t linger, and it was only too obvious that it had somewhere else to be.  I knew where it was going, too—Australia.  I can’t say I blame it for being in a hurry.

The sun was still wonderfully warm in the mid-afternoon today, but it wasn’t the same warmth it had in October.  In November, the sun takes its warmth with it.  The chill is always right there in the edges, as close as the nearest shadow, as close as sundown.  As close as winter.

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October, again.

October, again.

The year seems to have passed like a roller-coaster.  I should not be surprised by this; it happens to me every year.  And yet, just like a roller-coaster, even (especially!) when I know it’s coming, I always get that feeling in the pit of my stomach when it starts the Big Drop.

Like roller-coasters, the Seasons (at least in the part of the world where I’m a passenger) are about dynamics of energy—in this case, the sun’s energy as it spends more or less time above a particular horizon.

Winter here is a bottoming out, with the Earth losing more energy in long, cold nights than it gains in the brief warmth of the sun.  And I feel the same way, myself.  Summer’s momentum will carry me through “The Holidays” (usually too fast to know what hit me), but then there’s January.  And February.  And March.  Spring finally arrives, and the world around me begins to recover; for me, it’s always a slower process.

Summer is when I finally begin to feel like I’m regaining more energy than I spend; the slow climb back up the hill in which I save up, little by little, the potential energy I will need for the plunge.  (Late summer is when I suddenly find the energy to do ambitious things, like starting blogs, even though I know I will be tearing my hair out over how to make temporal ends meet by mid-December.)

Then September comes… crests the hill… hovers, poised for the drop… (at this point, I’m the one with both hands on the safety bars, wishing for a nice place to just stop off and have a cup of tea…) and, voom!  Days and weeks flash by in a blur of obligations, desires and missed opportunities.

But here we are, back in October, again.

It might not be readily apparent thus far, but October is actually my favorite month.  Crisp air and apples; blazing leaves and bonfires.  Pumpkins, cider, woodsmoke…  Halloween.  October is that exhilarating moment when I’ve crested the top and it feels like I could fly.  I just wish it didn’t go by so fast.

Anyway… Hold on tight, and enjoy the ride!

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