FEBRUARY 1, 1798, SOMERSET
FROM HER DIARY
The wind blew so keen in our faces that we felt ourselves inclined to seek the covert of the wood. There we had a warm shelter, gathered a burthen of rotten boughs blown down by the wind of the preceding night. The sun shone clear, but all at once a heavy blackness hung over the sea. The trees almost roared, and the ground seemed in motion with the multitudes of dancing leaves, which made a rustling sound, distinct from that of the trees. The wind beat furiously against us as we returned. Full moon. She rose in uncommon majesty over the sea, slowly ascending through the clouds. Sat with the window open an hour in the moon light.
By now, the novelty of winter has certainly worn away. All of the childlike wonder that accompanies the first snows of the season are long since forgotten in the bitterness of bone chilling cold. Well, that is true if you live in certain parts of the Northern Hemisphere. If you are fortunate to reside in warmer locations, try not to gloat.
Thoreau, writing on the coldest day of 1855, noted the old saying that “by the 1st of February the meal and grain for a horse are half out.” (He spent the rest of that frozen month skating on the local rivers.) We are likewise inclined to the introspection of imposed solitude when reflection comes easily, if not with a friendly face.
Like the wheel of the liturgical year, the earth’s seasons mirror those of our life, and now is the perfect time for context. As Patricia Hampl wrote in A Romantic Education “And what else was there to do in the winter? Stay inside and read. Or write. Stay inside and dream. Stay inside and look, safely, outside. The Muse might as well be invited—who else would venture out?”
“If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”
As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.
D I G D E E P E R
February by Michael Stowa
He gained new followers for his work on the 2001 film Amélie where his art on the walls comes to life. Sowa contributes illustrations to the satirical German magazine, Titanic, and he also did the art work for magazine covers of several well-known periodicals, most notably the December 2, 2002 issue of The New Yorker.
See this whimsical animation of his painting:
Grigson, Geoffrey. The English Year. Oxford University Press, 1984
Nissley, Tom. A Reader’s Book of Days: True Tales from the Lives and Works of Writers for Every Day of the Year (Kindle Locations 903-905). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.