When you live in the great frozen midwest, February begins that time of the year when you just don't want to do it anymore - "it" being winter. It's kind of like when you're having a baby and you're in your tenth hour of labor. You've had enough and you just want to get it over with. You know the end will come and you'll have your baby as a reward that makes any unpleasantness worth it. But for now, labor and winter just plain stink.
There are the gray skies for days on end. There are the days with above normal temperatures that get your hopes up that maybe you'll have an early spring, only to have those hopes dashed by an Arctic cold front reaching out to you with its icy fingers. And even on the "normal" days hovering around freezing, Old Mother West Wind blows in and sends a permanent shiver down your spine.
I've said for years that I could hibernate. It's extremely difficult for me to leave the house during winter. Of course, I can't stay in - there's work and doctor's appointments and church and darn, I even have to walk the 100 feet from the front door to the mailbox to retrieve the mail. And 100 feet back.
You expect winter when you live here. It's a fact of life that I know all too well, because I've lived my entire life within a 30-mile radius of where I was born. I've visited some warm climates and dream of what it must be like to live there. Florida is nice, especially in winter. It even smells good, with all the tropical flowers in bloom and the breezes blowing in from the gulf. Ecuador is even nicer, with their every-day-is-spring climate in the Andes.
So why don't we move?
There are a lot of reasons why we stay. Probably the number one reason is familiarity. It's what we know and it's in our comfort zone, climate excepted. Right up there at the top is the fact that our family is here and we like living close to them. And then there are the jobs. Once you find a job and have been there for many years, with salary increases and benefits, it's difficult to take the chances involved with walking away from that. So we stay.
Just moving from our house itself doesn't appeal a whole lot to me. We bought it when we'd been married just two years and the house was as many years old. We've made improvements inside and out and it only faintly resembles the house we bought so many years ago. The property has changed a lot too, with the addition of the swimming pool, the pool house that doubles as a garden shed, and all the gardens. Many trees, shrubs, and flowers have been planted that have stories and sentimental value attached to them. All of this would make it very hard to leave and turn it over to strangers.
So we trudge along through February and March, groaning all the while through their laggard, sluggish days, pressing ever onward like the good northern soldiers we are. When spring finally makes her grand entrance amid the cheery, colorful blooms of daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths, spring fever erupts in all its delirious glory and life is good again.
And that's about all I'm going to allow myself to even think about spring because it's just too darn far away yet. The anticipation gets to be too much to handle. In the meantime, the sun is shining today as if it's trying to make up for the single-digit temperatures that arrive later tonight.
Yep. Still winter out there.