Tuesday, January 29, 2008

About how January goes

If today the world is worried about global warming, I find myself worried about global speeding, for surely the Earth has quickened its pace around the sun.
If the years of my childhood seemed tinged by infinity, my grownup years are all too finite.
Why does July, my favorite month of the year, which is as long as a month can be with 31 wonderful, daylight-savings-time extended days when light lingers long into evening, why does it go by like a ride on the Blue Streak at Cedar Point?
And how did December, that month of antagonizing anticipation for children everywhere, once as slow-moving as any ponderous social studies class, how did it go into hyperdrive, so that I no more throw away the last of the cranberry sauce when I'm late sending the Christmas cards out and then suddenly it's Happy New Year? How could a month change its character so thoroughly?
I'm thinking of one of my favorite passages from one of my favorite books, "...And Ladies of the Club" by Helen Hooven Santmyer (1982, Ohio State University Press):
"And as always, for as far back as she could remember, she saw the shape of the year: not round, like a clock's face, but a kind of irregular polygon.... She saw herself a lonely figure moving around the many-side face of the year: up the steep slope of November; December rising sharply to a peak, Christmas the high point of the twelve months; January sloping in a long slow downward line, the longest month; February shorter, dropping more steeply; March, another long line, falling almost vertically to April; April and May turning backward and slanting down; June dropping more swiftly to the other high point of the year, or low point: The Fourth of July.... July itself was another almost horizontal line, merging into August, the next to the longest month, rising only slightly to September's outward slant; then three months of climbing back to the beginning again, through October, November, and December to another Christmas."
Which brings me to January, and it is indeed as Miss Santmyer says: the longest month. Which brings me to a long/hate relationship with its long days, for January is the only month, now, in my life that that doesn't seem over before it begins. If I hate the let-down after the holidays, the back-to-work discipline of days, the "dead of winter" feeling of snow storms and freezing temperatures, I can't help but appreciate its longevity; January lingers, as the rest of the year does not.
Come Friday, even this longest month will be gone, traded for the shortest; my polygon journey will continue.
How about you? Are you coming along for the ride?

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