2012-01-23 / People Plus Pulse

The bottom of winter

BY FRANK CONNORS Speaking Frankly

My February starts on the second of the month.

Most call it groundhog, or Candlemas Day. If you’re from Maine, Candlemas Day marks the date of an early (1692!?) battle between early settlers and Maine’s native population. History says the Indians prevailed this time, terrorizing, brutalizing and pushing settlers out of the district, at least for a while.

It’s a story worth re-reading.

And then there is Helen.

Helen is one of my buddies at The Highlands, and years ago, we started this Groundhog Day thing. I had told her about the little beast seeing its shadow (or not) and had suggested ( in jest) that we meet to test the theory.

“ Hey,” I’d say with my straightest face, “let’s meet at the flagpole at dawn. If we see our shadows, wel-l-ll …” By now, I’m guessing I’ve conned my good, if gullible buddy Helen three, maybe four times into that jaunt, and we have yet to check our shadows together. I know it’s going to be another good year when I can convince Helen to rise early and make that frigid, pre-dawn stroll to the pole, with me still relaxing in the warmth of my bed.

Maybe this will be the year I’ll meet her there …

Then there’s the old saw about, “half your wood, half your hay.” I’m not the kind of guy who has lots of concerns for hay, but I take my woodpile VERY seriously. I dread the day when I have to walk into the kitchen and tell Jane we’re running low on wood.

Maybe this year, the groundhog will see his shadow …

Cold snaps seem to linger longer in February than in any other month. Too many of my friends are finding an excuse, any excuse, to escape south. Even South Portland sounds better in February.

I’ve found we have to make our own little bright spots. Spend more time with the seed catalogues, plan something special for President’s Day and something very special for Valentine’s Day.

Plant something, even if it is only grass, and watch it turn green. When we finally get one of those warmer, noon-day February treats, get right out in it, and take a deep breath and enjoy.

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