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The Second Half: February can be fun

January 27, 2010

By Kathleen D. Tresemer

Columnist

Second Half readers may know I received some flak last year for saying February was “the worst month.” In light of such indiscretion, this year I will sing praises to the good things about February, hoping to balance out my negative karma from 2009 and smooth the feathers of those who got so upset last year.

Holidays are a good place to start. First, we have Groundhog Day Feb. 2—you know the story. If the groundhog sees his shadow, expect six more weeks of winter; if the day is cloudy and shadow-less, this is a sign of spring.

I prefer the 19th-century American farmers, who had this saying: “Groundhog Day —half your hay.” Like farmers today, they knew Groundhog Day was about the halfway point to winter, cloudy or not. If we don’t have half of our hay left, it could be lean pickin’s for livestock before spring grass comes in.

At least this one makes sense to me. When I asked Hubby about this expression, he peered out the window at our horses and said: “That’s about right. We have roughly half our hay left in the barn.”

I follow his gaze to our horses frolicking in the pasture, round and fat as ticks. “I wonder how much hay we would have if we didn’t feed them like they were training for a marathon.”

“They need a little fat on ’em going into winter,” he grumbles. “Keeps ’em healthy.” Post-Depression mentality…that philosophy explains why we look like we do.

Anyway, I got all excited about the accuracy of the old Groundhog/hay expression, and decided to make up a new adage, just for Second Half readers: “Groundhog Day is halfway: walk and weigh!”

You have only half the winter left to shed those extra pounds and get into summer shape. While rhyming has never been my strong suit, I am pretty proud of my new slogan. Hubby patted me on the head and apologized, “I like the one about hay better.”

For more history and fun facts about Groundhog Day, visit the official Punxsutawney Phil Groundhog Club Web site at www.groundhog.org.

Next comes St. Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14. I was surprised to learn there were actually three martyred saints named Valentine: one from Rome, one from Terni and one who was martyred in Africa. Not wanting to go into details about martyrs, since I know so many folks who feel similarly persecuted, I will simply direct you to both Wikipedia at www.wikipedia.org and the Catholic Encyclopedia at www.newadvent.org for more about that grisly subject.

In the spirit of fun-filled February, I’ll get straight to the sweet stuff. One of these priests named Valentine was imprisoned by Emperor Claudius II. Claudius didn’t want his young men to marry because he needed them in the army. Valentine was secretly marrying these guys—thus, the romantic part.

History aside, my favorite thing about Valentine’s Day is the “chocolate and flowers” part and, during prosperous times, expensive gifts! No matter how old I get, or how hokey they say it is, I always feel special getting something on Valentine’s Day. Anyway, you have to be a real sap to argue against a day to celebrate our love of one another…we should have one every month.

Another good thing about February is the weather. Since it sucks so bad outside and I am desperate for a little sunshine, this is the month to distract myself with such things as cleaning and taxes. If I schedule some of these chores each week, by the end of the month, I feel pretty good about my accomplishments.

“The trick is to pick out only small tasks each week,” I explain my system to Hubby, “like a closet to clean out or certain tax papers to get. Then, you don’t get overwhelmed.”

“Sounds good,” he mumbles from his recliner. “Could you hand me that blanket?”

While my enthusiasm is not entirely contagious, we all cope in different ways.

The days are getting longer in February, so if you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, you have the gradual increase of light to cheer you. And the month is short—once it’s over, we have only three more weeks until the first day of spring.

“Don’t forget Super Bowl Sunday!” Hubby reminds me. “That’s in February, the culmination of all the triumphs and defeats of the last season in one spectacular day.” Hmmm.

For final inspiration, I went to the Holiday Insights Web site at http://www.holidayinsights.com/moreholidays/february.htm . Here are special things about each and every day in the dang month—take that, February lovers!

1—National Freedom Day

2—Ground Hog Day, Candlemas

3—The Day the Music Died—Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper died in a plane crash in 1959.

4—Thank a Mailman Day

5—National Weatherman’s Day

6—Lame Duck Day

7—Send a Card to a Friend Day—obviously created by a card company

8—Boy Scout Day—celebrates the birthday of scouting; Clean out Your Computer Day—second Monday of Month

9—Toothache Day

10—Umbrella Day

11—Don’t Cry over Spilled Milk Day

12—Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday; Winter Olympics

13—Get a Different Name Day

14—Ferris Wheel Day; National Organ Donor Day; Valentine’s Day

15—National Gum Drop Day; President’s Day—third Monday of month

16—Do a Grouch a Favor Day

17—Random Acts of Kindness Day

18—National Battery Day

19—National Chocolate Mint Day

20—Love Your Pet Day

21—Card Reading Day

22—George Washington’s Birthday; Be Humble Day; Walking the Dog Day; International World Thinking Day

23—International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day

24—National Tortilla Chip Day

25—Pistol Patent Day

26—Carnival Day; National Pistachio Day

27—No-Brainer Day

28—Floral Design Day; National Tooth Fairy Day

29—Leap Day (once every four years)

In her second half of life, Kathleen D. Tresemer is both a journalist and an award-winning fiction writer. She lives with her husband on a small ranch in rural Shirland, Ill. Kathleen can be contacted by e-mail at kdt-insights@hotmail.com.

From the Jan. 27-Feb 2, 2010

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