PHOTO: Shuman frozen valentine.jpg
Cool photo by Emily Shuman
February can be a tough time of year, here in the North. Many people up here, including yours truly, are just tired of the chores of winter. There is only so much fun that can be gleaned from snow removal and wet gloves. We’re also tired of the people who tell us that it’s Vermont, and if we don’t like it here, we can leave. Downright neighborly, those folks are. For more neighborly, if less-than-excited folks like me, the romance of the first snow of the season – a feeling that some of us no longer get anyway – dissipated even before the first frost of the year did from our widows. (I meant windows… Oh well. Too late now.) Many of us are simply sick of shoveling, slipping, knuckle and windshield scraping, and paying more and more each year just to keep warm. Much of the snow is no longer Christmas-y white, but muddy brown, as are the sides of all of our cars, which cannot be washed because the great outdoors is, literally, much colder than the coldest cubes in your ice maker.
I know… all of this sounds so negative, and maybe the neighborly folks who would tell me to leave are correct. After all, aren’t many people still having a great time skiing, snow boarding, and snow-machining up here every day? Of course they are. Crazy people have always been everywhere, and Vermont is no exception. If you don’t believe me, just walk through the State House in Montpelier. (That was a joke, sort of.)
People in the deep South probably have never even heard of the term ‘cabin fever.’ That is because many of them have never lived in a frozen ‘state,’ if you get my meaning. If they have, they have since been thawed out long enough to have forgotten about it. The two months per year of warm weather here is far from enough for me to forget about it. You can, likely, tell that I am no outdoors man, except for my annual summertime trip to Maine to ocean fish, and that fact is fortunate for me, in a way. I never get cabin fever, and am normally content to stay inside, reading, writing, or doing the arithmetic of budgeting for my next delivery of wood pellets. That is, I stay inside whenever I’m not snow blowing, snapping the handle off a windshield scraper, or wrenching my back trying to walk to the car to snap the handle off that windshield scraper. I don’t believe in reincarnation, but if I had ever been some other kind of creature, I’m sure it would have been a rabbit, or squirrel, or other ‘smart’ creature that stores up food in its nest or deep down den and shuts out the world from fall until the first signs of spring.
Yes, February can be a tough time of year here in the North. There’s not much that is easy about it. It isn’t even easy to spell February. What the heck is that first ‘r’ doing in the middle of it, anyway? It’s probably good that someone decided to stick St. Valentine’s Day right there in the middle of it, too. That day gives us a chance to make some warm, fuzzy, gooey expression of love to the one we love, and also gives the candy, greeting card, and flower shops the business year’s first warm and fuzzy feeling, right in their bank accounts. For those of you who don’t know it, I operated department stores for many years (to support my writing habit), and always got a chuckle out of Valentine’s Day. I know that people procrastinate, but it was just ridiculous on that day. We closed at five in the afternoon, and probably sold as many big heart-shaped (or guilt shaped) boxes of chocolates to forgetful husbands and boyfriends between four and five that day as we did in the previous two weeks. (Nothing says ‘I love you’ like a big box of candy still in the plastic bag from the store, receipt and all.)
Kidding aside, if it’s possible for me to write and put kidding aside at the same time, winter is rough, and we need to take opportunities like Valentine’s Day to redeem ourselves a bit, and maybe to make a fresh start with that person we care so much about. Since my Valentine happens to be the world’s most wonderful woman, I want to take this moment to wish her the warmest Valentine’s Day ever. I love you very much, Lorna.
Your frozen Valentine is having a rough winter, too. So, find a way to warm them up. (Good grief, use your imagination. Do I have to tell you everything?) Also, on that special, mushy day you get to tell your loved one that the first day of spring is only 50,400 minutes away. I know. I’m counting.
“George’s World,” a new 740 page collection of George’s columns from The World, is available at xlibris.com, amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and your favorite bookstore. “The Smoke And Mirrors Effect,” George’s first novel, can be seen at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. Happy Reading!