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Because I'm thinking it has nothing on January. Even though we get a minute more of the sun each day, it means nothing if the clouds shroud it in gray half-light. It's dark and cold in the north. (We have actually had a pretty mild winter but the main purpose of weather is to have something to complain and make small talk about hence the previous comments.)

The toughest bit about this month is that it is full of sad news and memories of loss from years gone by. Natalie Cole, David Bowie and now Alan Rickman join my best friend from elementary school and my husband's grandfather who've already gone on to whatever mystery awaits us. For me, it is also full of anniversaries of birth of some other people in my life who died way too early, leaving empty places that seems bigger in January than in the warmth of summer. It seems like people fighting for their lives manage to hang on to be with family for one more holiday in December but January is a time of letting go, a time to mourn. Be at peace.

With such a dark, sad time of year, in a massive effort to combat depression, cabin fever and general shack wackiness, people take an icy plunge into a mostly frozen lake or do some sort of sport involving balancing on sharp metal blades while simultaneously whacking at something with a stick and sliding on ice. Balancing on boards careening down a hill is also popular. Depending on what sort of weather we are complaining about, sometimes we slide down sidewalks and roads while yelling choice anti-lock words. If you are young and not responsible for your own car insurance, the same effect may be manufactured in a largely empty mall parking-lot. Providing the appropriate space for donuts is the true purpose of Walmart. I would prefer to eat the donuts which brings me to another way to fight January. Always keep fighting, right?

Comfort food exists as a direct response to January. Adam and Eve got evicted from the garden into a world containing death, winter in January, and the inevitable taxes. Eve, being practical and rightly pissed off at the fruit at the center of the whole mess, decided to get her revenge and make pie out of it. Adam ate whatever she handed him evidently, and was happy to note that pie came without a smiting, as long as he took the trash out and got his own beer. Eve, glad to have someone else handle the trash (she watches SPN and the X-Files and knows what's out there), found other things to make into pie. Some were more successful than others. Take mincemeat for example...or maybe not. As for me, after several years of grocery shopping for Thanksgiving dinners with a spotty memory, I have enough canned pumpkin to provide pies for my family right through the end times. Some of the people on my facebook feed have succumbed to January and are convinced that the end times are here as heralded by the existence of Obamacare and Pope Francis. I hate to break it to them but the end of the world is supposed to come when you least expect it and everybody expects it in January. But I digress. We were discussing canned pumpkin. My goal is to have made pies with all of it by March. I have been making a pie every other week or so since November and still have about six cans left. I'm getting good at pie crust though.

So I fight January with baking and by leaving the outdoor Christmas lights up until at least after the Superbowl. When things seem very bleak, I can always dig out the seed catalogs and plan the summer veggie garden. This year, I have my parents' 50th Anniversary surprise to plan and my brothers to frame for it. As a response to the mess that was 2015, I am back in therapy with shiny new diagnoses with lots of letters that mostly mean I am extremely shy and wig out at slamming doors. I think I can make headway and be better for it when I'm done. Hopefully it is more tune-up than overhaul. Things are improving with our dogs and I've managed to walk both of them every day for over a week now using gentle leaders. There is something almost meditative about standing in the winter backyard with the dogs in the growing dusk. There is still enough ambient light to see and the winter clouds reflect the evening lights of the city adding a glow to the sky. Mix in the white noise of the far off freeway rush hour traffic and let the cold settle in a little. I can gather in the calm and stoic reserves needed to get through another January day and I think of the people and critters that I have been lucky to share the planet with. Then I can go inside and take the pie out of the oven and remember that there are only 34 days before the MLB pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training and the days are getting longer.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 15th, 2016 06:31 am (UTC)
*hugs* I think finding ways to combat the crappy that's been January so far is a damn fine idea, especially the lights being up until the Superbowl!
Jan. 15th, 2016 12:36 pm (UTC)
I had a big smile when I saw your SPN playlist for beating January into submission. We're half done with it and that's a big comfort.
Jan. 15th, 2016 02:17 pm (UTC)
*hugs* glad to be of service! And yes, half way there helps!
Jan. 15th, 2016 07:53 am (UTC)
This is such a lovely, ruminative post--even if perhaps the circumstances that inspired it are not the best. I love cold weather (though I love being cold indoors a bit less) but nevertheless January remains complicated and difficult to stomach. I'm currently trying to cure that by commenting up a storm here, and its posts like this that make this a viable strategy. :) The defamiliarization of the winter sports made me smile especially.

And thought of all that pie! THAT IS A LOT OF CANNED PUMPKIN. Though I think at the moment the doughnut you mentioned sounds even more delectable. Mmm....
Jan. 15th, 2016 12:45 pm (UTC)
You know you're deep in the throes of fighting January when you find yourself choosing the grocery store based on which ones have the cake doughnuts with white frosting and coconut. Really though, writing this entry helped more than most things have. And yes, it's a lot of canned pumpkin. I've been trying to restore some order to the pantry and I keep coming across another can of the stuff. Miscellaneous cans of odd beans purchased for who know what are in there too. I don't think pie is the answer for that though.....
Jan. 15th, 2016 08:56 am (UTC)
I don't understand why the use of pretty, decorative lights that make you feel better should be limited to Christmas. January is pretty much as dark as the month leading to Christmas and a lot more meh as well. We're currently up to still only 6 hours and 40 minutes of light per day, so I say bring on the pretty lights!!

Also, PIE. \o/\o/

Jan. 15th, 2016 12:54 pm (UTC)
We're getting a bit more daylight than you folks yet but it has been unusually cloudy which makes it seem darker. The lights help and I'm all for that. Frankly, it's too cold to go out and mess with getting the wires off the trees so it feels good to be claiming that they are still up for a reason other than cowardice in the face of the cold. Hang in there, longer days are coming.
Jan. 15th, 2016 11:08 am (UTC)
You'll make it – January is halfway over already!

Where I live I find the worst month is March, because it can be just as hot as January / February, but by then I've really had enough! There's no lack of sunlight, at least.

Things are improving with our dogs and I've managed to walk both of them every day for over a week now using gentle leaders.

Glad to hear it. I'm still having problems with kangaroo chasing and am getting a lesson specifically about it this weekend.

Edited at 2016-01-15 02:09 pm (UTC)
Jan. 15th, 2016 01:02 pm (UTC)
There is something to be said for having a decent change in the seasons. March is about the time winter gives up it's grip so it's a good month here.

It's been really good to get the dogs out walking. They are calmer in the house and sleep through the night now. That makes everybody else happier. I'm also confining them to the laundry room when we leave them alone in the house. The little one gets naughty when ignored but this seems to be working well.

I can't imagine trying to keep a dog from kangaroo chasing. They are so fast too. I can't imagine the disaster if the dog actually catches one. It's like car-chasing dogs catching the car.

Keep me posted....I'm rooting for ya.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )


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