In a word . . . February

 

There’s something about February. It reminds me of Wednesday evenings or a hill near home. As you’d expect.

It won’t be long now until Christmas. You think I’m joking? Next time I look up it’ll be Halloween. My life is racing by at such a pace these days I expect to wake up one of these February mornings to find it’s already 2020, not 2017.

But there’s something else about February. By now each year I can fit into the shirts dear relatives bought me for Christmas. I am back to a more regular weight again and inflation due to excess has been beaten. For now.

Much as with the economy, such inflation at Christmas seems both inevitable and manageable, until the next time.

It’s not like that annually in Kerry. There, and according to local experts, summer days are said to be longer than in winter because of expansion due to heat. You wouldn’t get away with it anywhere else.

But it brings us back to February. The slight but perceptible length in the days is a harbinger of more light and heat ahead. It is a teasing, but pleasing, intimation of summer days past, but especially to come.

As with that Wednesday evening feeling, with its perceptible hint of Friday. And that hill near home. Climbing it on a bicycle as a young fella was hell. Exhaustion, frequently, seemed about to win out over hope as the climb ground out remaining breath and tore at exhausted calf muscles.

Then the top was in sight and sweet anticipation of the sheer drop on the other side, with its effortless, thrilling freewheel to eternity and back (at the bottom), supplied a sudden jolt of energy which seemed limitless as from nuclear fusion. It could feel that way.

Once it seemed I was destined for eternity, full stop. I had lost control of the speeding bike and was headed relentlessly to bang head first into a wall, stone to stone. A jolt on brakes and last minute reflex saved me to remember forever afterwards that great escape with a mixture of terror and sweat.

But there is no terror or sweat in February. Just a sweet hope gilded by the lengthening twilight.

February, from Latin februarius mensis (month of purification) from februa, meaning “purifications”. Last month of ancient Roman calendar.

inaword@irishtimes.com

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