February. What is there to say about February.
Stockholm Syndrome has set in. We don’t remember what it was like to go outside. We don’t remember what it is to spend time outside. To feel the sun on our skins. To be warm. To be hydrated. To breathe without niggling discomfort. We don’t remember green things or blooming things or fresh-picked food. We don’t remember clean air.
We have given in to the cold. We wear mufflers indoors. We have piled sufficient thicknesses of blankets on the beds. A bath is a brief moment of partial warmth, swiftly followed by a shivering dry-off and the relief of pajamas and socks and robe. The floor is cold under our socked feet? Oh well, that’s just the way things are. They’re never different. Surely, things were never different. We have always been at war with winter.
Our daughter cracks the shell. She remembers. “Mama can we have a picnic?” “Mama can we go to the fishie pond?” “Mama can we visit the wild kitty?” “Mama can we hunt beaver?” No, dear. Dear, darling, optimistic, irrepressible girl. We can do none of those things. If you cajole us long enough we’ll put on boots and make a couple glum circuits around the house. Then indoors again for hot drinks and sadness.
Nothing is interesting. Not food. Not sex. Not stories. Not friends. People quibble and squabble more than usual; or does it only seem that way, because I have nothing to distract myself from it? My husband and daughter are unutterably beautiful but I can’t bring myself to be bright for them. I cuddle when they ask for it. I blink blankly when they speak to me. I have nothing interest to say, myself.
February, like late pregnancy, is an interstitial state. It exists between the capable self I used to be and the faith–not knowledge, not belief–that one day I will be that person again. One day I will plunge into the forest with gusto. One day I will plant flowers. One day I will scrub the house from rafter to subfloor.
This month I finally saw a fox; and I didn’t only see her, I saw her twice. I expected her to be the size of a large cat, but she is much bigger. There is no doubt in my mind that the mangy animal I saw in the autumn was a fox, now. She was gorgeous, and so unexpectedly foxy. Do you know what I mean? Some animals look nothing like illustrations of themselves, but foxes do.
My husband saw something long and low, of the mustelid variety. A weasel? A mink? It flashed across the corner of his vision one morning. While arguing with himself he conceded that it might have been a groundhog, but I believe his first impression. Mink in the woods sounds so woodsy and romantic. We’ll let it stand there.
The food this month has been quiche. I can’t be arsed to fight with meat.
I’ll see you again in March. Maybe things will be better.