Outside the world is still frozen in the ice white and blue of January, but inside I fan the flames of February reds. I replace the blue glass in the window with red, and a sweet heart-shaped beeswax candle.
Valentine's day is red, and Chinese New Year feels red to me (and not in the Communist sense)--red dragons and lanterns. I have a length of red Chinese silk, that I will one day make into a sexy dress, but for now, I drape it in the dining area, with a streamer of felt hearts.
We celebrate Chinese New Year, Observed (Asian-fusion-style), twice. First on Wednesday, we eat Dragon Soup and read Daisy Come Home and The Story of Ping. Sunday, friends come over and we make eggrolls and stirfry. M and his friend try some origami and M looks up Chinese characters online to write onto their cootie catchers. We listen to a new CD--Asian Dreamland--and read Chinese and Tibetan fairytales at bedtime. I forgot about the red money envelopes, but that's OK, because so did they.
A friend of mine once remarked that she liked the light in February. I don't know if she meant the longer days, after the dark of November, December, January, or the angle of the sun, or the quality of light. It should be the counterpart to October, in terms of length of day and angle of sun (the Old Farmer's Almanac indicates that, just a bit south of here, February 15 is about the same length as October 31). October's light is golden, setting the crimson and bronze leaves of autumn ablaze. I try to capture this light, soaking in the warmth of the late morning sun coming in the window as I wash dishes. I raise my head from the pillow and peer out at the sunrise illuminating the bare trees out the west window. The light is golden, yes, pale, frosty gold, but golden.
Early February is halfway between the winter solstice and spring equinox--the ancient Celtic festival of Imbolc, or the beginning of spring (our modern day Groundhog Day). It was the beginning of spring. I add lambs for Imbolc and rabbits for Chinese New Year to our nature table (which has been demoted to a window sill for the time being).
Spring feels far off now, but it makes its first whispering advancements. I snowshoe to the neighbors' house through snow over my knees, and peel off layer after layer as the warm sun penetrates. Two blinding flashes of lightening, followed by horrendous rumbles of thunder, split the night, followed by icy rain pelting the windows. All day the roof drip, drip, drips. Carpenter ants wake up from their long sleep and skitter across the floor.
We don't kid ourselves--there is much snow and ice ahead of us, before the coming mud, before the first tender shoot of spring shows its green face--for now we focus on the red, take the heat when we can get it (from the sun or the wood stove).
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