February really is the time that tries the soul. It is the start of four to six weeks, in the up country, when one just clamps down and does one's best to avoid suicide, homicide, or any other 'cide you care to mention. Because you have just about fucking had it.
Two recollections. When I was a high school junior, we had to read Ethan Frome
. The experience was lost on us. All of the characters' angst was, for us up there, just slice of life. What, hate each other? What, kill one another? Big frickin' deal! A point comes when one is just a machine for clearing snow and slogging though schmucky roadside crud to get to school.
The chief benefit is that one appreciates the first hints of spring so much more when they come.
The other was that of my daughter. When she went to college in upstate NY, her first two winters there were unusually mild. She was almost disappointed, and sure that everything she'd heard was a lie.
Then came the third winter. As she described things, it rarely snowed very much, but it snowed all the time.
Four inches this night, six the night after, then another six, and so on: and it never, ever melted.
When she told me this, I nodded and thought: see?
It just went downhill from there. We went to the kid's final state championship swim meet in Rochester the year after that. While we were there (this was late February) we saw a weather report that said it was the 48th straight day in which it had snowed for some part of the day or night...and then, in spite of this, my daughter went to Rochester for her graduate studies: Yankee girl, meet lake effect snow.
Under those conditions, it becomes easy to think of prolonged sunlight as a freak cosmic accident...something like a solar eclipse, where people gather to look up at this rare phenomenon.
Small wonder the beer in upstate NY is pretty good: they sure as hell need it.