In my part of the world, February is a long month that stretches for at least 94 days. The roads are snow-covered and icy for most of the month, which means that by the time I get to any destination, I have a tension headache from gripping the steering wheel so tightly. By February, the mittens and gloves we hang in racks above a heating vent are beginning to smell sour from getting wet repeatedly. And despite expensive snowboarding socks, my feet are always cold. But the worst part of February is that it's a month of dark nights and re-opening emotional scars. Long winter nights can bring hours of melancholy introspection and self-hate.
That's why it's become a February tradition for my Wild Women friends to have a pajama party. Slumber parties, we decided a few years ago, should not be reserved for the junior high crowd. Women of all ages need giggling and dancing and chocolate to ward off those February blues.
We gathered yesterday evening, each woman following the long-established tradition of bringing way too much food. Both the counter and table were soon filled with veggies and dips and salads and sushi, enough food to last us about a week, rather than the 24 hours we actually had. It's hard to feel blue when I am surrounded by close friends, with a bowl of hot soup in my hands and guacamole at my elbow, and the sound of laughter rising above the crackling of the fire.
In the long-respected tradition of slumber parties across the country, we stayed up late, talking and eating, dressed in flannel and fleece. I am pledged to secrecy as to what exactly went on during those late night hours. ("Did you dance naked?" one of the husbands sometimes asks, with this sort of hopeful tone in his voice.) And in the morning sunshine, we stayed by the fire for hours more, still in our pajamas, carrying through with some of the deep conversations from the night before.
By lunch time, I was just coming to the realization that four hours of sleep is not enough for a woman my age. But we brushed aside the sleepiness with a hike in the woods, walking through about six inches of fresh snow that had fallen the night before while we were busy with massages and conversation. Puffy clumps of snow decorated the bare branches in the woods, and three of my friends could not resist beginning a snowball fight. We hiked to a grove of hemlocks, and Quilt Artist kept looking up at the branches above us, saying, "See, I could use that pattern for a quilt."
As we walked back to the house for another meal, a valiant attempt to finish up the leftover food, Makes Bread and Quilt Artist stopped to make angels in the snow.