It is early, as I write this. Not yet, is it time for the early service to commence. The world is still dark, and a steady wind is blowing. I like to”get up before the chickens” . . and the sparrows. In the moments, before the dawn, I can hope and dream all sorts of things. I can hope to spend my day wisely and dream of the possibilities, a day holds. I have yet to see a day, that did not hold some form of beauty.
Lately, there has been an ample amount of frost in the mornings. The winter wheat fields are iced in hues of silver and sparkle in the first rays of light. They look like fields of diamonds, for a short while . . and the bare trees, surrounding them, look like statues with ebony crowns. By mid morning, the spectacular act is over and the wheat fields become wheat fields again without a bit of dazzle. They are a different kind of beautiful, I notice on the drive home. The tender sprouts are an emerald green and do not seem to hold a grudge against the cold February nights, as people often will.
To many, February is a lowly month. This is not so at the rabbit patch. In a lot of ways, February is really the grand finale of winter. Soups and chowders tastes better in February, than in months like May. Blankets are more comforting in the chill of this month-and to me , to be wrapped in warm in a soft blanket, by a friendly fire is a moment of great worth.
There is also Valentines’ Day. When I was a child, we made little paper hearts out of construction paper. We spent a whole afternoon making a horrible mess. Glue was everywhere and the floor was littered with with little scraps of pink and red paper. We decorated the cards with plastic lace and sometimes glitter. We were to make one for each student and the teacher. Then we made oversized envelopes with our names on it and hung them up, so the valentines could be delivered, the next day. No one bought valentines in those days. Mama made heart shaped cakes on Valentines’ Day. In the years to come, I would expect a box of candy in a heart shaped box, and a store bought card, from a boyfriend. Those were simple times.
I have kept the holiday as pure as I can, at the rabbit patch. When my own children were young, we had pancakes and I would buy chocolate. Their lunchboxes had a sweet little card declaring my motherly love for them, in a silly way. You can believe that Kyle will still look for something special in his lunchbox, this week. . .and it will not surprise either of the boys one iota, to have heart shaped biscuits for supper.
Now most of the days in February, are not holidays-most of the days are damp and chilly. Rain is quite likely and sunshine is muted or absent altogether.. Lamps burn throughout the day like little beacons to welcome us home. Visitors are likely to proclaim the charm of the rabbit patch in months like April, or on summer evenings when the wild honeysuckle blooms. The autumn is lovely too and folks declare, that the rabbit patch is a little paradise, of sorts, when the leaves are in their autumn glory. Whatever the season, I tell them to come back in February, before the daffodils bloom and the peach tree blossoms. Now to me, the territory is still beautiful, without any frills. Like the winter wheat fields, it is a different kind of beautiful . . in February.
February is about the last month, a country dweller can expect to rest. It will be less than a fortnight, before the southern vines will demand a fair amount of taming. Weeds will follow suit and the March winds will scatter everything not nailed down, into undesirable places. I am quite content to spend time conjuring up all kinds of dreams in February, on account of this. I do not “wile away” the days of February, waiting for spring. It seems quite an injustice to the shortest month of all to just wish it were over. It seems ungrateful . . and wasteful really. Time is quite a commodity and since I do not waste a bowl of beans, I am not prone to squander a month of life.
Today, rain has “set in” and is supposed to linger for several more days. Thankfully, the rabbit patch does not flood-at least it hasn’t in the twelve years I have lived here. Outside of the window, by the morning table lies the world being washed in a silver rain. It is a steady rhythmic rain and it soothes me to listen.
February is more than just the month before March. It is a time of twilights, when fog blankets the countryside, like a mothers’ love- and gentle light heralds the day. Kitchens smell of slow cooked fare . . .and sometimes cookies, for February reminds us to say “I love you”. I have always told my children, “Don’t forget to love the winter too.” . . . The same can be said of February.