As eager as I was to slam the door shut on 2013, I am almost as eager to do the same to you. Here's your hat, your mittens, your scarf, long johns, parka and snow boots. What's your hurry?
Still, really quickly, before my fingers lose sensation and my lips crack off, I want to take a moment, January, to say thank you.
As hard as it is for me to think of some tiny good that has come out of your harsh sub-zero temperatures, your snow and all of the Arctic gear and subsequent and downright dangerous traffic jams on I-95 that accompanied you, I do have a few snippets of gratitude:
Thank you for the majestic, white quiet of waking up to a snow-covered wonderland. As Deborah Underwood wrote, there are many kinds of quiet and this is one unlike all the other quiets. It is simultaneously light, as well as heavy- like floating in space must be, and at the same time, as palpably heavy as a blanket.
From someone who prefers noise to quiet, it is no small thing that I adore this snowy morning quiet as one of my favorite silences of all time.
I also love a roaring fire in the fireplace (although I don't have one, but still, I can appreciate it) or the gratifying crunch of my boots in the newly blanketed sidewalks as I walk my dog.
Although now, when we walk, we hurry, even though, as an 80-year-old dog (in human years), it is not in his nature any more to do so. We hurry in spite of this. In the summer, we have always found ourselves walking towards the water. In those other, gentler months, we can't go a day without a glimpse of sun or moon reflected on the water's surface. I swear that Winston loves it as much as me; He faces the water and almost imperceptibly turns his nose towards the waterside air, smelling whatever it is dogs smell that's not smelled in a yard.
Now, with you here, we don't bother. We walk with intention; we try not to inhale, let alone stop and sniff. we are all business. We walk in order to get it done, and to get this walk over with. As soon as it is done, we do a hairpin turn and head back the exact same direction from which we came.
Life shouldn't be like this, January. Remember what Mac Davis said? How can we stop to smell the roses if we can't feel our feet or paws?
But for always, I will hold a whimsical place in my heart for the Januarys when our three kids were small and we prayed for snow days and built snow men and igloos. I would watch at the window for when they were ready to come in and have the hot chocolate ready. I did love that. But if I am honest with myself, even back then, I enjoyed the idea of sledding at the golf course hillsides more than the actual sledding and the subsequent bookends of snow pants and mittens and wet, frozen boots and ice-covered mittens that came with it.
I am disappointed in myself to admit that I was usually trying to get your business done. To finish quickly so I could move on. January, you have a definite vibe of getting things over with. Just Do It. Quickly though, before you get too cold.
Some more things I won't miss about you, January? How long it takes me to undress when I arrive anywhere. There's never room for all of it. And the mess of salt and slush that insists on coming inside with me, just for a moment, just long enough to make a wet mess for me to step in and soak my not quite warmed-up toes. Call me overly dramatic, but you are not good for me. Nor my car, which looks gray, instead of black.
The colder you get, the longer it takes to get not just my car engine, but also my hamstrings. as well as my mood warmed up. I sometimes think you make my bones hurt. You are at best a bit of a trouble-maker and at worst, just plain mean. I don't think you can help it; It's just your nature. It's just how some months are.
I have to say, it feels good to say goodbye to you. It feels sort of like it would be to say so-long to a bad boyfriend and get this off my chest so that I can once and for all, be done with you and move on to a month that is easier on my soul.
I always say "you teach people how to treat you," but how do I teach a month to treat me better?
Someone like April, that tries harder to wake me up in a cheerful mood -- or even better yet, June, with it's sexy beaches and high temps. Compared to July and it's bikinis, you are just too high-maintenance.
As boring as it might be to live in, say, San Diego where day after day, the forecast is interminably 72 and sunny, here in Connecticut, I am tired of trying to keep up with you.
The term Snowbird used to mean nothing to me, beyond conjuring images of old people at early bird buffets doing crossword puzzles. Now? I get it. I want to be a snowbird. I want to stay with you long enough to enjoy your little brother December's festivities, and then, just about the time of the Epiphany, I want to go somewhere where I need, have to have, sunglasses and sunscreen; somewhere with a pool. Or sand.
I don't mind if I miss the Golden Globes or the Super Bowl or The State of the Union address or Martin Luther King Day (although I do miss the man.) If I never celebrate another New Year's Day or Super Bowl with zero temperatures, that is fine with me. As a matter of fact, you can take your Polar Vortex and shove it in your Polar Ice Cap. The sun doesn't shine there, does it?
Thank you for all of the humbling lessons that being cold offers. For showing me ways to either warm up or hurry up and that when things don't warm up, cold can be the motivation to take a hint; To get a move on and get things over with.
January, you are the bad tasting medicine that makes June feel like a miraculous healing. And as bad as you've been for me, still, you are not a tumor and I will get over you.
No hard feelings. We will still be friends, okay? If nothing else, you taught me to let it go. To keep moving. To get my business done and hightail it back inside where it's warm. And that other months will seem better because of you.
Thank you, January.
Now here's your hat.