Month of Black Ice


February, the month of black ice with fewer days than any other month feels to me like the longest month, probably because it is usually so cold and when winter feels most serious. Even December with the shortest days of the year does not feel as long as February does, perhaps because everyone is caught up in Christmas preparations and the decorations and lighting are so festive.

My friend Marilyn said that when she looked out of her front window at four a.m. two days ago she was startled to see two large deer munching on her front yard shrubs and they were startled enough to be seen that they ran off.

I hibernate regularly during the heart of winter, like yesterday when I looked out of the bedroom window at nine a.m. to see that the snow was coming down steadily like fine rain and again today when the bulk of the expected accumulation had landed but the snow was still coming down, horizontally with the wind blowing drifts from rooftops. The top of the snow line where the plows have pushed the snow through the street is well over a foot above the surface of the street.

The temperature is expected to drop below zero degrees Fahrenheit tonight and that does feel cold. I discovered when I was in my late teens that I could not tell the difference in the feel of the air from ten degrees above zero to ten degrees below zero, except that my breath froze on my coat collar.

After living in Naperville, Illinois for four years, where on a bright sunny winter morning the outdoor temperature was as likely to be eighteen degrees below zero, as not, I find myself measuring our weather reports against what I remember of those years in the suburbs of Chicago and telling myself this is not really so bad.


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