February is a month which I live in the present moment and also in memory. If all time truly does exists simultaneously, February is one of the months in which the sense of that is great.
It is a birthday month, mine and that of the first girl who spoke to me when I arrived to begin kindergarten at a new school where those early friendships had already been established. She reached out to me with a piece of candy and a kind word. Candy, a language as universal as a smile.
I take joy in the arrival of birthday cards, many in decorated envelopes, and always save them until the day, finding pleasure as well in remembering childhood cards and even grown-up greetings, such as the ones which contained a check from my grandfather on which he always wrote, with flourishes of the pen, "Birthday Remembrance."
This short and stormy month used to have two school holidays, the birthdays of Presidents Washington and Lincoln observed separately. There were years when our Girl Scout troop traveled to Yosemite to experience the park in winter over those long weekends, a bus ride filled with song - one trip it was a rolling CAMELOT soundtrack for those of us who'd memorized the words by the parent-maddening device of simply playing the album over and over and over.
The dime store, was there anything nearer to heaven on earth?, was the source for Valentines and their components. I will still buy heart-shaped doilies for no reason whatsoever, any size, any color. So by extension, February also remains the month of the grade-school crush, the agony of finding a card which said enough without saying too much and hoping it wasn't overlooked in the deluge the class postman delivered to each desk from the lacy and heart-encrusted box created just to collect them.
One of February's blessings is that it isn't January, which has frequently left me feeling bereft as the holidays are over and whether they served as distraction or celebration, they were gone along with the lights and the food, the fragrance of the Christmas tree, the time away from work or school, the anticipation and surprise, the music and the flurry. It is not an exaggeration to say that January sometimes feels like something to be gotten through, a hollow and colorless place, on the road to the return of red, sugary treats, gatherings and free time. I seem to be one who adjusts slowly to change, going from the Big Fun of December to the Bergman-esque landscape of January makes me want to nap long and often or lose myself in any books that had recently come my way.
This is really intended to be a simple "Welcome February" for I could reminisce without end, drift backward through years, ages, eras and gather an armload of February goodness. I will acknowledge it as a new square upon which to step, a place to begin rather than the trailing end of something finished. It is home to Aquarius and Pisces, champions of underdogs, rebels with causes, visionaries. It is one hell of a lot of candles on the cake and taking delight in being here to witness such a blaze while making wishes for things to come, a celebration of what our hearts may hold and the hope of learning just what that may mean.