The winteral promise

Next to November, in the northern states, February is the most maligned month of the year. But at the very start of it, although snow may still cover the land, you can, if you listen hard, hear the sound of stirring as though the earth was spending a last, restless hour of sleep before its full awakening. When the earth is exposed to view between patches of snow there is a sweet, moist smell as the ice secedes from the land and begins to give in, less than graciously, to the superior strength of the slanting winter sun.

Purification is steadily going on in the land under the uncompromising snow, and the roots of forgotten things are beginning to stretch and stir and prepare their winter-bound abilities for rebirth and new growth. Plants and trees above the land look expectantly toward the changing rays of the late winter sun and buds prepare to return again for another season of renewal. The sun itself stays longer in the sky and slants obliquely above the still depleted earth with a new promise and a higher intensity of gold.

February is the month in which the deliberating groundhog pulls himself sleepily up out of his winter hiding place and thinks seriously of spring. Legend has it that this bushy little beast suddenly has a great urge to check up on his shadow. If the sun is shining and he sees it, he goes back to bed for another six weeks. If he doesn't see it then he stays up because he knows that spring is very shortly moving in.

In February nothing has happened yet but very soon it may. Even if the skies open and pour down a new profusion of snow one knows that it won't be long before a fresh wind will blow out of the south or west and bring the traditional and welcome February thaw. Snow in February is temporary snow. The expectancy of almost anything is always more exciting than the happening itself.In February the expectancy of spring is at its height. It reaches across the frozen river, it sweeps down from the grey and barren mountain top, and it rides in on the slanting rays of the sun -- promising, always promising.

There are no longer the frozen white corridors of winter that seem to be impervious to any possible reprieve. There isn't yet the overburdening power of mid-summer with its heat and heavy humid air. There isn't even the full, sweet newness of spring. It's only the promise that is there.

The promise of the universal proof that mistakes can be corrected, life does renew itself and the ability to begin again is built into all living things.

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