Listening Post: February revelry

February revelry–try to pronounce that five times fast. I’ve gotta say, I’m not a fan of the month. In non-weird weather years, this is the month I begin to get sick of winter. (I finish getting sick of winter when the lilacs bloom.) This year we haven’t even had any proper winter, and I’m still sick of it.

But it’s not just the weather. February is the season of lame holidays. It’s like they had to just stick some in there on general principles. Today, for instance–Groundhog Day. A bank of networked supercomputers can’t predict the weather out past Saturday, and we’re supposed to celebrate the uncanny powers of a big fat rat? I don’t think so.

Then there’s the unofficial entry in the race–Super Bowl Sunday. When the new TV ads come into bloom, and tribes of biggified humans do barbaric things to one another for loot and glory. (Sorry sports fans–the portion of my brain that once appreciated team athletics was destroyed when Eddie Kunkel released a baseball bat directly into my forehead while I crouched behind the plate at the age of 10.)

Next up used to be Lincoln’s birthday. Pretty good candidate for celebration, followed later by Washington’s birthday. I was down with that, too. But President’s Day–really?–even Warren G. Harding? I studied Lincoln and Washington. They were school friends of mine. And you, Warren, are not them. Then there’s Valentine’s Day. Bad cards, chocolates with nasty gooey centers, soon-to-be-dead flowers, and all designed to humiliate the unattached, and guilt-trip the pair-bonded.

Our bonus holiday this year is Leap Year Day, where insult is added to injury by extending the month by a full day. 365 and 1/4 days to the year? Who thought that up? And adding the extra day on to the election year?–have mercy. But now that I think about it, there are a few things I don’t like about every other month of the year, too. It’s just that I only find myself dwelling on such grievances in (that’s right) February.


13 Comments on “Listening Post: February revelry”

  1. Jay says:

    Very funny–if not altogether too true!

  2. Helene VAnderburgh says:

    Yeah, bah,humbug. A pretty snowfall would help.

  3. Dale, Groundhog Day goes way way back and is ultimately based both on Native American lore and that of our Germanic ancestors (those Americans who have them). So it doesn’t fall into the category of made-up holidays, but otherwise, I think you’re spot on. For those of us who worship in liturgical religions, we sometimes joke (joke?) that Feb. 2, Candlemas Day, which was traditionally the end of the Christmas Season, has now been replaced by SuperBowl Sunday. Indeed, Presidents Day is another example of meaningless homogenization. I live near the Lower Hudson Valley Revolutionary War sites and “my” president is “Washington,” not “generic.” As for Valentines Day — humbug!!! Aware of how much the ADKs depend on snow for their economy, I do get angry when I hear people express thanks that there hasn’t been much snow in the Northeast this winter. Keep up your good work.

  4. Bill May says:

    Dale, you’re so cranky! Get over it, and enjoy the Super Bowl spectacle of new ads like the rest of us. Besides, any excuse to eat and drink too much is great day in my book. You really need to find some snow and go play in it.

  5. Dale Hobson says:

    Hi Bill–

    i’m not really all that cranky. It’s just that when you get rolling on an axe-grinding rant, you want to be both comprehensive and consistent. Consider it an inherent defect in the literary form. I’m quite recovered now.

  6. Ellen Beberman says:

    Dale, you say out loud what so many of us think! There is one bright spot in February – the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival. What could be better than standing outside for two hours during the coldest time of the year to cheer a parade of slightly loony floats and marchers?

  7. Hank says:

    Well, Dale, I guess I’m different. February is my third favourite month of the year – right after September and May.

    It tends to be the sunniest of the three “winter” months and, of course, it’s the shortest (even in leap year). But most important, it’s the month in which we see some real progress in the lengthening of daylight hours (compare how late the sun sets now compared to what it was like at the beginning of January).

    The only downside to February for me is that it leads to my least favourite month of the year – March!

  8. jill vaughan says:

    loved this post- groundhog day is the day my mother died, when I was a child. So whenever puxatawney phil is prognosticating, I have a little ceremony going on in my heart. I was alone with her, on a bright and bitterly cold february day- the night before I had written “I have a mother” on a piece of paper and put in in my little-girl white nightstand. I saw the light fade from her eyes. It was the whirpool of my life down a bathtub drain- and I watched, powerless and dumb. I have seen her shadow for forty years of winter.
    Why am I posting this? don’t know.. but because we never know the occasional tenderness others feels, the coals than a random poker has brought to life. Guess I’m thinking this because of the boy whose body was just found- how the family will feel… forever…

    I’ll shut up- good post, and long live us all, in our various stages of curmudgeonliness and naive bounciness.

  9. Dale Hobson says:

    Hi Jill–

    My parents both died in the month of November, so that always colors my thoughts as fall fades. I proudly inherit my curmudgeonliness from both. Long may we wave our canes, indeed.

    And Hi Hank–

    Who’re you kidding? Ottawa in February is only bearable because you start the city-wide Winterlude party on February 3 and continue straight through to February 20. That leaves only a handful of days to slog through. We should take a leaf from your book–a maple leaf perhaps.

    Dale Hobson, NCPR

  10. touching…
    my heart goes out to all
    guess that’s what February is all about…

  11. Mickey Williams says:

    Dear Dale.
    Iliked your comments. I got sick of winter those three or four days
    when I couldn’t get out of my house because of ice. I am ready for
    warm weather any time even though I am a native of Minnesota.

  12. John Scarlett says:

    Right on, Hank! I would add that for me winter begins to end the day in mid February when we begin maple syrup season by getting the oxen and me back in shape by cutting and hauling out next year’s firewood for the evaporator. After that everything accelerates pretty quickly: “sap slaves” recruited, trees tapped, first boil, first syrup, first canning. Hungry, bone tired, cold, wet, frantic, ecstatic–all the time–until the great bucket washing party sometime in April and there is more time for syrup peddling. Suddenly it has gone from winter to spring and I was out there in all the muck and mire of that transition while almost everyone else was holed up inside reading seed catalogs. Again and again for forty years now.

  13. Joseph Smith says:

    Winter without snow in the NC!? It’s worthy of all the crankiness you can muster . . . people in Europe and especially here in Dushanbe, Tajikistan are complaining bitterly about their worst (I mean coldest and snowiest) in 100 years. Even though my house won’t budge above 52 degrees (Farenheit, of course) and power goes out everday, I’m smuggly satisfied that my winter stories of living in New-York-not-the-city can go toe-to-toe with old rooskies’ stories of yester-year winters in Siberia. HA! Top Tug Hill Plateau snow drifts at -55, Sasha! Ah, to be reveling in a Central Asian winter, with Dale Hobson here to enjoy it!

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