Just last week my friend and I consoled a younger girlfriend in the midst of romantic heartbreak and possible break up. Another friend of Ben’s had a break up too. And then there is all the sickness, money troubles and car problems that go around at this time of year. I ask you, “Is anyone surprised?” The world looks pretty bleak right now. It’s freaking FE-bruary!
Every year, I tell myself that February can’t be that bad. I tell myself that, it’s a short month and March is practically spring here in Virginia so, come on girl, don’t be down. Then it comes. It is awful and cold and grey and my brain turns into a muddle of mush, and I start to live off of espresso, because nothing seems even remotely appetizing.
I just want garden-fresh salad and strawberries, hot and dusty from sitting in May sunshine . Also it would be nice for my skin to resemble any other tone than that of a pasty creature David Attenborough finds at the bottom of the sea. Okay, okay you get the picture.
Now I love the country, love it ,LOVE it, in virtually every other time of the year. It offers a bountiful variety of plant and animal life. I love to walk the dirt roads around my house, to watch the sunset on the mountains and the pink mornings full of birdsong. Something interesting or new is always going on with the animals. My neighbors are out in their yards and we holler to eachother and chat over the mailbox and there is always something to gather for harvest or mess around with in the yard. Who needs clothing stores or bakeries when nature is open 24/7?
But this is the time of year I find I desire most strongly the delights of the city. The country landscape is bleak and I am ready to take in nature’s diversity in her human dimension. I want the bustle of people, and to sit at the National Gallery and take in the beauty of a painting or sculpture and to drink espresso in a real cofee shop full of the scent of a flowering diversity of pastries. Lest I forget, beauty is more than just flowers and sunshine. It is there in human civilization. We can bottle up sunshine in a jar of jam and bake it into a croissant. The light and warmth of summer are frozen in time and space by human hands on a canvas for all to see. And if the sun is weak and cold in winter, one can bathe in the warmth of human companionship sipping coffee with a friend. In winter the city reminds us that nature has another dimension and that dimension is us.
This is where I find the first hope of spring, in the darkest hours of winter, in my winter pilgrimage to the city. I get my shot of culture in the arm and it gets me thru this most bleakest of months. Once again, winter, you lose.