January, I need to let you know a few facts. Sure, you’re a long and hearty month, and one that demands we play by your rules, but seriously, we all must do what we must to survive you. I get it, if you had it your way, we’d all be hibernating like bears, hunkered down, stoking a smoky fire in a clay hut. But listen January, you may be bitter and cold and rigid and frigid, but we just can’t live like that. Not really. Not this year. Sure snowbirds may fly to Miami to escape the real you, but for those of us who hang tough to tell the tale come May, we have a few tried and true strategies. For starters, we keep color inside while your landscape lays bare on the other side of our frame. That’s right. A pop of color to remind us that even January, as big and rough as you want us to believe, is temporary.
I’m not suggesting that it is easy. There are days, plenty of days, when the snooze button gets hit, and I cocoon myself under the pile of blankets and down puffs, feeling undone, on the brink of deciding that maybe this morning with the wind literally howling just beyond my shuttered pane is enough to keep me down. Yes, there are many such dark dawns, but eventually I push myself up, and once vertical race through my morning tasks to get out the door with enough time to navigate your slippery work. That ice. Snow. Cold. Oh January, must there always be a test ahead!
But we find camaraderie where we can. This turkey flock is always weaving around my house. Yeah, they say to me as they make their slow trot up the hill, we are living through, so pull yourself together, come what may. They nod. I nod. Into the woods they go as I speed away.
And January, those woods. An occasional crack. A limb drops. Wind moving the tallest branches. This is the sound of stillness. You may think the solitude will drive us back to our dens, but out here, in your frozen world, we gain strength. We find refuge in your green evergreens, your papery birch, the tiny critters that too survive all you deliver these 31 days.
Some days, oh let’s call them Sundays, just to bring in a pinch of irony, all we do is watch the snow fall. Those my dear January, are, quite seriously, precious days. Cocoa days. Books piled by our wide chairs pushed closer to the wood stoves. Relaxing and rejuvenating. Not surrendering to your obstinate rules. These days are your secret gift.
Because, first of all, the vistas are always there. January or not, there is always the spine along the top of the mountain ridge, the horizon and big sky overhead, pulling us to look up and out and feel whole in this winter world.
With December’s Solstice fully behind us, one can revel in the returning light. See the sparkle in your white. Find our way to the pond with skates, to the mountain with skis, to the hill with sleds, whichever you choose, you tackle January by joining in. Take that slippery slope with determination; just keep heading down!
And January, while you may hold no holiday cheer or bright ceremonies, there are still last month’s festive lights hanging in the trees and adorning our decks and bushes. We can stay in their glow as long as we wish, and this long month I suggest you do.
“We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always—home, always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop and every window, of one country—all of us— facing the stars hope—a new constellation waiting for us to map it, waiting for us to name it—together” (Richard Blanco).