February, and the coming of spring

Ah, February — the shortest month of the year but in many ways the longest. Cold, snow, winds and Valentine’s Day — a pretty little holiday to look forward to in the short, but sometimes brutal (as our snowfall this past weekend proved) month.

Once we are dug out and bundled against the harsh winds, we can walk through Nielsen’s Florist and instantly be transported to spring — the smells and colors of the flowers, dozens and dozens of the most sentimental of flowers, roses, in every color waiting to be delivered to loved ones throughout town. And not so traditional, as the simple little blossoms on African Violets in riots of colorful little flowers that cheer even the most dismal of winter days profusely blooming throughout the month.

Heading to Palmer’s, who has the most delectable little bakery with all sorts of luscious treats from cakes sized for two, to truffles and other holiday sweets. Who can resist?

February – the birthday celebrations of President’s Lincoln and Washington on the 12th and 22nd respectively. Though patriotism is not a course we learn in school, our children learn that freedom is uniquely American. Celebrating these birthdays (now combined into President’s Day on the 18th) is the beginning of a respect instilled in our children and passed on for all things tradition and country, starting with the basic premise of freedom. I can still see the black silhouettes of Lincoln with his fuzzy little beard and Washington with his hat – lining the halls of Tokeneke School!

And back to Valentine’s Day – February’s star on the 14th, a day of love and surprises – are we, as a world, getting better or worse? Are our tribulations any different, taken in perspective, than those of other generations? Think Pearl Harbor, Civil War, the hurricane of 1938 right here in New England, plagues, Holocaust, — perhaps we just need gentle reminders to push forward with life and maybe the words of Robert Frost, who typifies winter poetry: “And were an epitaph to be my story I’d have a short one ready for my own. I would have written of me on my stone: I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.”

But for now, there is 19 inches of snow out there and the sweetest little sparrow sitting on the fence outside my window, where I watch safely sheltered from the cold. It’s such a humble bird with its plain brown feathering and miniscule size. How does this tiny creature survive the harsh winter winds and cold? He enjoys flitting from the fence to the bird feeder I filled before the storm started knowing it would be hard on them. And now that

Punxatauni Phil saw his shadow – can we truly expect an early spring? I look out my window and think, no — but then — somehow spring always arrives usually sneaking up on us — not quite unexpected — but always welcomed.

 Nanci Natale is a lifelong Darien resident, photographer, poet, accomplished gardener, cook and artist. Her poetry has appeared in Cosmopolitan, Bellowing Ark and others publications.

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