Friday, February 4, 2011
February, let me count the ways
Yesterday there was a mention on Facebook that this is Niece's Week. In honor of that, let me introduce you to my only niece, Alia, who is an artist living in Fremantle, West Australia. The painting, Feeding the Fish, is a piece she created, by invitation, for the Vasse Art Awards silent auction there.
As February is now 1/7th gone, it seems redundant to write the welcoming post I'd had in mind. Simply stated, I am a big fan of this little month for the following reasons:
When growing up there were two school holidays.
Paper crafts at home and school connected to the honored Presidents and Valentine's Day.
My birthday, on the 8th, and my elementary school best friend's birthday on the 10th.
Cupcakes, parties, my mother's crepe paper party hats, multiple Nancy Drew books.
A lot of red and many hearts.
Winter trips to Yosemite with my Girl Scout troop. Hanging around the Lodge, imagining myself to be a skier.
I will always be a fool for paper. February is a permission slip to indulge that obsession with abandon. Heart-shaped stickers know no season, nor does glitter. Lacy doilies, ribbons, the list reaches from here back to the walnut office desk upon which I did my crafting until I moved away from home. My sister still has the desk, a gift from the newspaper owner who employed our father. With the desk is its original chair, recovered who knows how many times.
There is nothing flimsy about February. Its holidays have tradition and substance. As I have spent decades making my own Valentines, it am not troubled that the so-called romantic event is a greeting card, candy and, more recently, diamond retailer's dream. Sweethearts come and go, love remains, the heart as a symbol endures. It is a shape that pleases me. If I had been a 1950s movie star, of course I would have a heart-shaped swimming pool. Or a Judith Leiber bag. Or both, plus plenty more.
A February surprise was waiting for me this morning when I checked my email. In the mid-1980s I wrote a story about an inflatable toy, Bulgy the whale, which is posted on my desperately out-of-date website. "Bulgy the Whale" in the subject line from an unknown address got the day off to a mysterious start. The writer had found one of the elderly toys and, through Google, was led to my story and me. I told him what little I could about my beach toy and about an amusement park ride friends had mentioned, also named Bulgy. As I checked Google, there seemed to be lots of information related to the ride. That the writer found my link, and sent a note, felt like a message, a sign, of some sort, though I could not say what.
I would like to defend my month but the recent brutal and excessive weather she/he delivered cannot be prettied. There are many who will not think kindly of February because of it. Knowing that anything, everything, can change in a moment, I will sit with thoughts of Februarys past, of today's unexpected communication and drawers filled with Valentine materials. Even without the indulgence of candy, birthday cake or ice cream, it is still a sweet month, one I am happy to claim as mine.