Winter is not a season, it’s an occupation. ~Sinclair Lewis
It is the longest month of the year. Christmas has mainly been put away, save for the one wreath over the stairs. The tree has been relocated to a spot outside my office window. I redecorated it with bird seed bells and suet for the birds who will use it as a shelter and feeding station until spring. The darn thing blew over four times in one day last week during our little mini-blizzard. Four times I cursed because it meant putting on my down jacket and boots and staggering out to put it back up. But I did it, anyway. As a matter of principle.
Because I am more stubborn than January.
This is what I keep telling myself. That January will not beat me. I test myself by watching shows like “Island Homes” on HGTV and use MapQuest to chart a fantasy, one woman road trip southward, planning how I’d split up the 1600 plus miles of freeway that separate me from a white sand beach somewhere, anywhere, in January. I’m not picky. Any beach would do. Actually, a parking lot near a beach would do. I would sit there in my car, watching dolphins. Until April. Then I would drive home. That is my fantasy in January. To sit in a car in a parking lot while I watch dolphins. This is what it has come to.
Meanwhile, the man I live with contentedly skis through January and tells me that there are snakes in Florida. Yes, I think. There are snakes. And other crawly things, too. And even dolphins, actually. And they are smarter than we are because they do not live in Minnesota in January. He tells me that leaving would also mean leaving my “people” and I think, my people are fools. They live where the air hurts their faces, just like me. I convince myself that I would not miss these people, much. That I would come back to them when the air didn’t hurt anymore. That maybe they would even miss me enough to visit me. We would watch dolphins, eat oranges off trees, and avoid snakes. He does not understand that longing for a sunny spot to ride out the winter months is in my DNA, and that he married a lizard, not a woman who was born and raised in northern Minnesota.
And so, in January, I keep looking longingly at maps and charting my imaginary, some day, lizard-y exodus from all things cold as I watch the birds outside who clearly don’t have any more sense than I do fluff their tiny down coats and hunker down in the branches of a somewhat crooked spruce tree covered in white, waiting for spring.
Just like me.