Love This Month

January is the month of the plain days, when we return to our right minds, the way that old Prodigal Son did, waking among the pigs. I’m guessing that happened in January too.

It’s the month when we breathe free again, for behind us is December’s delirium; behind us the scorekeeping, the anguished thoughts about just exactly who we exchanged with last year and should we buy them all gifts again this year?

Now it’s Plain January and January’s no month for keeping score.

January’s the month for letting go and letting it happen.

Cold happens in January. Sometimes it happens in such a big way you can’t wear jewelry without causing the flesh it touches to freeze in sympathy.  Last weekend my ears looked like two little dried apricots just pulled from the freezer, even without the steel posts of earrings skewering their lobes.

Snow also happens, as the folks in Cordova, Alaska can testify with their house-high amounts.

But snow too we just have to have to let wash over us.

In fact that’s all we need do in January: endure the weather and try to get to the Superbowl without giving ourselves coronaries.

I love the month for its blankness. It’s like the yearly planner before we fill it with all our appointments. I love it for its rhythms, the 31 days all alike with one welcome holiday weekend smack in the middle. I like the way we can set our alarms for 6:00 or even 5:00 and then just lie there a while in the pre-dawn hush. Because even a full month after the shortest day, it’s still not light until 7:00 and there’s something cozy in that early morning darkness.

Sometimes I rise from my bed at 5:00 and see old Orion, armed to teeth, and leaning in my window. “Go back to bed, fool,” he seems to be saying. “Can’t you see it’s night still?”

I follow his orders and dream just one more dream.

So though the days are short still, there is something nice in that fact. It lets us not be fibbing when we tell our pillows, “Be back real soon!” And in another four weeks, a muscular young sun will be pulling our covers right off us, impatient as a puppy eager for breakfast.

That’s true, hard as it may be to believe on this 22nd day of January, when just halfway through the Patriots-Ravens face-off, our little patch of earth will be plunged once again in darkness. But think on this; just think on this: Right now, the Almanac says the sun came up at 7:15 A.M.  A month from now it will be up by just after 6:30. And by the 21st of March? By then, we’ll be two whole weeks into Daylight Savings, with sunset not due until 7:30 P.M.

In sum, I love this month for its message that all we need do is snooze and wait, just as the seeds are doing in their deep earthy beds. Then one day, when we’re busy with other things, we’ll turn and spot that one frail crocus blossom and see that Life really is as ever-regenerating as the poets have always told us.

just look at that blue sky and tell me it’s not thinking ‘robin’s eggs!’

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