February 04, 2006

Blue

Ah, February.

Every year, I hope that it will be different. I fill my life with healthy things – meditation workshops on Monday evenings, belly dancing on Tuesdays, skiing and snowboarding on weekends. I make lunch dates with friends, take walks in my woods, and spend time writing poetry. I have so much to be grateful for – healthy children, a husband who loves me, a supportive extended family, a job I enjoy.

But it happens late at night when I am tired, and everyone else is sleeping. The house will be dark and quiet, and I’ll creep out of bed to come downstairs for a glass of juice. I'll sit on the couch with a book or my journal (this year, my laptop), wondering why I can't sleep.

That is when they sneak from the shadows, sliding from behind chairs, slithering from the half-opened closet, squeezing through cracks in the baseboard.

And I'm too tired to resist.

I want to curl up with a quilt, bury my head in pillows, go to sleep. But I can't.

The fields where I spent lazy summer days picking wild strawberries with my siblings, hours crouched in the dried grasses under hot sun, have disappeared underneath a highway. The meadow where Outdoor Girl and I spend many afternoons horseback riding, galloping through the tall grasses, has become an office park. The woods I used to ski through with my parents, including an old barn where we would stop to eat oranges, has been replaced by a parking lot.

I see a high school friend at the grocery store, and he tells me about his divorce, his voice still shaking with bitterness. I hear a beautiful young woman, a student who is both smart and sad, tell me that she cuts herself. I see my husband's sadness as he watches our own kids turn into adults and his regret that he spent too much time working when they were little, years spent in a soul-sucking corporate job, time he cannot get back no matter how he tries now. I watch my parents grieve as their friends begin to die, one by one, often from some type of cancer. I see my father's frustration as his body weakens, as he loses some of the fierce independence he always had.

And when boys this community turn into young men, I can't stop the military from snatching them up, sending them overseas. Perhaps the government can stop photos of coffins coming home, but certainly, they cannot stop parents from talking, from grieving, from crying at the way that our children are being sacrificed.

During quiet moments in February, I want to hibernate. I want to step away from a culture that seems increasingly dominated by fear, a culture in which humans kill members of their own species, women hate their own bodies, and leaders lie to those who need them most.

35 comments:

Masterfraud said...

It's true what you say about February, and you say it so thoughtfully. I wish I didn't have to leave bed this month.

Friday Mom said...

(o)

Laura said...

My first college boyfriend broke up with me in February. We became great friends and every February, we checked in with each other, asking, "How's your February?" You see, we decided that February itself was the chief cause of our breakup, a month much crueler than April. For such a short month, it certainly packs a punch. Here's hoping we all make it through.

Lisa V said...

I have a love/hate thing with February too. I grew to love it a little because my third daughter Sunshine was born in
February- today actually! But I have always thought of it as a month to just get through. My father left my mother February 1st. My first marriage fell apart in February. I moved from a small town I loved to a city I hated in February. I broke up (or they broke up with me) with numerous hs boyfriends. Miscarriages...grandmother slipping into a coma... sister entering rehab...realizing Bush is president for 2 more years...

We all really need to get together for a "The month whose name we will not speak" for a week-end every year. Maybe it would change the calendar karma... something to look forward too.

joanna said...

May is a much harder month for me, even though I have SAD. The pull of anniversary reactions, end-of-year fatigue and so forth make me want to crawl in bed until June.

mindspin said...

I do not think it is February per se. I think it is the world itself. It is life bounded in death. It is the waste of good. We just feel the world more keenly in February, in the stillness and longer dark of winter in an empty month before crocuses and daffodils push up through the soil into the warming sun.

Pilgrim/Heretic said...

(o)

Sue said...

(0)

Bitty said...

(0)

Phantom Scribbler said...

(o)

(Wistfully) Remember how you spent last February's nights doing blog-performances in other people's comment boxes with Scrivener? Those were the days.

We need a queimada to burn away the demons of February...

jo(e) said...

Phantom: Yes, I remember it well. That was the best part of February last year.

Dr.K said...

I'm with you, but here's one good thing about February: It's the month when you make maple syrup. Towards the 3rd week, when the days are beginning to warm a bit, but the nights are snappy, the sap is up and running. Even the slightest nick in the smooth gray bark of a silver maple runs with sap, as if the tree is bleeding. But the trees don't miss the few gallons we take. You drill a hole, tap in a length of pipe that just fits the hole, and leave a bucket underneat. The next day the bucket is full. I love drinking the sap--it's delicately sweet, clear as water, and with a fresh, lively fragrance, different from but as attention-getting as that first moment when you walk into a florist's shop. Gather up gallons and gallons of it, and put it in a big, old pot to boil. You don't do it in the house, because after just a few gallons boil away, the curtains get heavy and bend their rods, pictures start falling off the walls, and a milky yellow condensation drips down the walls and stains the pillow on your couch. Do it outside, but if you can close your kitchen door, you can put a big fan in the window and exhaust most of the steam that way. Keep adding sap as it boils down, and pretty soon you have a thick, hot, syrupy liquid boiling and steaming, and it smells wonderful, and it's that much better when you're outside and the fragrance mixes with maple wood smoke. You filter the hot syrup and pack in it the bottles you've been collecting all year, usually ones with those swinging wire fasteners, like Dutch beer bottles and big bottle that expensive, sparkling French lemonade comes in. When the season is past around March 1st, you have a gallon or so, which is just enough to last a family about a year. In this way you get to know sugar, red, and Norway maples, and you learn that box elder is also a tasty syrup producing maple tree, and the big, watery silver maples too, that give a delicious and more pungent syrup than the others--like buckwheat honey compared to clover. Put the syrup on pancakes, of course, but on cereal too, and stir in into your tea, and the first time in March when you break into your stash, you invite everyone who helped you over for Sunday morning waffles. That's what February means to me. On years when I can't make syrup, I look back to when I did it last, and forward to the next time.

Sarah Sometimes said...

sorry you're sad. I'm thinking about you.

Rev Dr Mom said...

{{{{{{{jo(e)}}}}}}}

jo(e) said...

Dr. K: I love your description of making maple syrup. It made me hungry just reading all that. But in this climate, the season is in March, not February.

So if you make maple syrup during February this year, invite me. I'll cancel my classes to come visit.

Scrivener said...

(o)

timna said...

at least it's short?

zelda1 said...

February here means a taste of spring, many of the flowers including tulips begin to poke through the earth. But February is the month I gave birth to my daughter, the daughter who is slowly killing herself with drugs and destroying my grandson's life. I remember that morning so clearly, I don't think I will ever forget. She was so tiny and her face so expressive, even then. I breast fed her and she latched on and at one hour old she grunted like a little pig, always attacking with vigor. I should have known then that she was going to be the one who was never satisfied, never full, always wanting more. For me, this is a difficult month, not because it is her birthday, but because it is the forunner of spring and I have to say goodbye to winter and to the possiblity of snow and ice, which I dearly love. Plus, it is the month that is scribed the month of love. Hmmm, how can that be. Oh but Mr. Zelda always buys me chocolate covered cherries. That makes me happy. I can feel your father's pain of having to accept the weakness that accompaines getting older. It kills Mr. Zelda to admit that he can't do the things he use to do, nor can I do the things I use to do either. But hey, soon we will get the senior's discount at Western Sizzler. That's a plus, right?

apstraight said...

Is anyone else humming Dar Williams' song "February?"

Jo(e)- here's wishing that March will get here FAST!

Peace,
apstraight

Being Shielded said...

Oh...

Yankee T said...

Hugs, dear. You could use some sun, I imagine. Bless you.

peripateticpolarbear said...

I started singing that song, too. I think Dar's February is one of the most accurate songs I've ever heard. I hate February. I consider it one of the calender maker's wiser decisions to make it only 28 days long. At 30, we'd all lose it.

chichimama said...

(o).

lostinthemiddle said...

I hear you loud and clear and Jo(e). Only 23 more days left til March.

Sorry that it is keeping you up at night, though.

halloweenlover said...

Another thing in common, Jo(e). For some reason, February incites sad feelings in me, lots more contemplation about the things I dislike in this world. Maybe it is the weather, or the lack of sunlight, or the fact that spring seems so close but yet so far.

Hope this month goes by quickly for you too.

Susie said...

I'm with PPB and APStraight... Dar's February is the perfect song for, well, February:
"you said, that's a crocus, and I said, Whats a crocus? and you said its a flower.
I tried to remember, but I said "Whats a flower?"

I hope this passes soon for you jo(e).

Mona Buonanotte said...

January is my 'cruelest month'. But this year, not so bad, with you and my fellow bloggers to share the time with.

I hear you, sister. Sometimes I look at the world and have so much fear and regret...but then I see my kids and my husband and they laugh and I laugh with them, and that's the sun coming out.

listmaker said...

For me it's January (stretching into February this year).

I'm sorry you are so sad; hugs to you.

Rob Helpy-Chalk said...

Do you need more of these?

(o) (o) (o)

I've got plenty.

Marie said...

Indeed. What a bittersweet month. (o) all around.

jo(e) said...

Thanks for all the hugs everyone.

Rana said...

(o)

(You can't tell just from looking, but that (o) is a small white pebble, rolled smooth by the waves on the Oregon coast, just the right size to hold in your hand and gently stroke, hand in pocket, when you are feeling stressed or sad. If you hold it up to your face, you can smell the sea.)

jo(e) said...

Thanks, Rana. A pebble like that is just what I need.

Wendy said...

I never minded February (my birthday is at the end of the month, so I guess I always felt it was special), but my mom always did.

She and her best friend had a ritual where they'd call each other on March 1 to celebrate getting past February.

My mom's best friend died 6 years ago of breast cancer. In January. Guess she didn't want to make February any worse than it had to be.

susan said...

Oh, Joe. More hugs here.

Can we all get one of those pebbles?

I was going to say that you've made me think of Dar Williams' February, but I see several folks have beaten me to it.