10 February 2009

Run Through By Eyes of Blue

Under a February sky of Carolina blue, I felt my heart stop and I nearly tripped and fell down the ramp in front of me. The sun was playing tag with clouds like meringue, and it felt so good. My surprise was complete, total, and irrevocable.

I’m sorry, Mr. Eliot, April may have been the cruelest month for you, but around here February is the sadist. The blood is running sluggish and feels tired. The cold and damp has been hanging around for too long. Every day feels like waking up from a restless nap, dizzy and sick feeling, with a head full of molasses.

Even the sky gets in on the act. It hangs. It lowers. It’s a swollen belly the color of a dirty nickel. Or maybe a bucket of fetid dishwater. The grayness rubs off on me turning my skin into a peculiar shade of nothing. The skin itself is usually dry and scratchy; sometimes I feel like I’m molting. Crabby enough to be an angry crustacean.

It’s a little strange because I am not a “sun” person. I like beaches and being outdoors but it has never been a priority to get a tan. My honeymoon was in the Bahamas, an entire week, and I found that by the end of the seven days of paradise, I felt like I had been poleaxed from the heat and the light and not being in the shade enough. Copious amounts of ‘Bahama Mamas’ probably didn’t help either. Sitting in a lounge chair watching people jet-skiing through Nassau Harbor or swimming up to the bar in the pool, bodies a-glisten with tanning lotion, that was exhausting for me in the full bore glare of the sun.

Summer days around here swiftly devolve into hazy buckets of thick, smoggy air, the humidity fit to turn any article of clothing into a damp sponge. The car is always hot, the air is always hot and fifteen minutes of trying to get anything done outdoors just makes you want to sit down under a tree with a cold beer in hand. Still, I never feel like I want to crawl into a hole and sleep for months.

Spring, fall and early winter are my favorite times of year. I like cloudy days when the clouds are rolling, scudding along under pressure of wind. I am comforted by a cool taste in the air like the possibility of rain. Rain itself I don’t mind in small amounts. A cool spring rain or that supercharged smell of fat drops in a summer thunderstorm are among my favorite seasonal experiences. That sort of thing lifts me up, makes me feel the possibilities of life running through my veins.

Fall days with a slight nip and mottled sunlight: I wish I could bottle them, paint them, write a good song about them. They make me feel alive and invigorated. Watching geese migrate or picking apples with the smell of frost in my nostrils, and I am blessed. As a testament to my dorkiness as a boy, I liked in some small measure that school had started by the fall. Perhaps it was the ritual of it, the seasonal marker. There was a newfound vigor in the body that came from cooler temperatures and shaking off the stifling effects of sweltering weeks. Not for nothing are they called “dog days”. Dog tired and panting from the heat.

I have also done some of my best work in early winter. The reasons are still a mystery to me. Shorter days and colder temperatures seem counter intuitive to higher productivity. Maybe it is the momentum picked up from the invigoration of fall, senses sharpened and on a roll. Being forced back inside I am sure has an influence; it is difficult to goof off outside playing Frisbee when the sun has gone down by dinnertime. Yeah, I know, they make glow-in-the-dark Frisbees, but the first time you do a faceplant after tripping over a hose, you get a big disincentive to risk life and limb running around in the backyard.

Wintertime at college was when I always racked up my highest GPA’s, too. Of course, I was up in the mountains of Virginia, and it was cold as the proverbial welldigger’s butthole most of the time. Except for sledding down hills on lunch trays stolen from the cafeterias, and weekend football, not a whole lot of reason for me to be outside. Maybe the weather promoted more of a “monastery” approach to life. Another advantage to winter in the mountains was the greater cold. That meant snow was more likely, not so much sleet or rain. Snow is a lot more fun than the gray funk I see a lot around here in February.

Gray funk. The best description I can think of for a February in Baltimore. Not cold enough for a lot of snow, not warm enough to really spend a lot of time outdoors. Especially here near the water, where it can get really damp. The sort of damp that seeps through the clothes and settles in the bones, sapping the energy and draining the spirit. Even like now, when we haven’t had that much snow and ice all winter, it’s still grey. Like a room full of nothing.

Except for today. Today it was warming up like you could smell Spring sitting on the back of the stove, simmering flowers. The soil was waking up and I had a nose full of minerals and a head full of breezes. My girl and I and the wife could not resist the call of the satyrs this un-winter day. Too much time in the house, too much gray painting the walls and the inside of our eyelids, so we piled into the car in search of rejuvenation. Soon, we were at the big playground where she went for “field trips”. Oh, what a lovely day! The scent in the air, the sound of kids playing happily on the slides and monkey bars, a nice breeze tickling my ears and neck. First time in weeks I felt some serious life in the limbs.

I stepped out of the car, helped Wee Lass out of her seat. She was real excited about playtime and being out of the house. We skipped a little going down the ramp, and she giggled to make me turn to mush. Her hair was in a ponytail, streaming in the wind, that honey-gold banner of the Princess trailing out behind.

At the bottom of the ramp, she stopped and turned and looked at me with those eyes the color of heaven. I, the Captain of Her Highness’ Guards, clutched my chest and swore that while I drew breath, she would never come to harm. The Princess smiled sweetly, knowing full well the glory of her position.
THE CHEST THUMPING CONTINUES: Please don't forget the HeBlogs/SheBlogs contest forget sponsored by Petra over at The Wise (*Young*) Mommy. Today's entries are from IB at Idiot’s Stew and Joe from Crotchety Old Man Yells At Cars, two fine examples of the male mind displayed in all its glory. The posts go up at 8:00. Check them out, it will get your day off to a roaring start!


  1. I too feel the call of the WInter Funk Blues. However outside my window is the whipping wind and riving rain. School pick-up today is going to be an adventure.

    By the way, Maryland was always great in late winter when we lived there too (Elkton, Delaware border). I miss those April and sometimes March days of wearing shorts.

  2. We got the Winter Funk Blues here in the Midwest,too-- and I just found out I have a vitamin D deficiency, so I'm wondering if a trip to the Bahamas is in order.

  3. There comes a point in February here in ChiTown where the snow is no longer white and the streets are Grey and slushy. This is when we head over to the Conservatory to see Green. My wife and I went last Sunday— it is a great pick-me-up.

  4. For the past several year, I've been vacationing in Ocean City, MD. Love it, love it, love it! I wish it was warm enough for a trip there right now.
    John and I went back in the fall for a birthday vacation and we did the Celtic Festival in Snow Hill. Fun times!

  5. "Today it was warming up like you could smell Spring sitting on the back of the stove, simmering flowers. The soil was waking up and I had a nose full of minerals and a head full of breezes."

    Love it. My favorite sensation, when you can begin to smell spring emerging. You captured it perfectly.

  6. Here in MI we have had a BRUTAL winter! Its a random 60 degree day toady tho, so im on the Harley!

  7. I adore the beginning of Spring. It doesn't last long, but oh, man, when it comes? I'm at the top of my game!

  8. Glad you got out and filled your lungs with some fresh air. It's good for the soul. ;)

    Des Moines is in a rather depressing state as well.. all our snow has melted and it rained yesterday.. Rained! yuck. Don't get me wrong.. I adore rain.. but in winter? no thanks, give me snow or give me death!

    Oh well, later this week we should get a new dose of white fluff.. let's hope it's a good one! There's nothing like blue skies and fresh snow!

    By the way, 'welldigger's butthole' gave me a serious giggle fit.

  9. Great imagery. I was born in Virginia and remember the cold winters. Now it gets gray here in SC but not cold. I don't seem to mind the gray days.

  10. Good one ol'boy. Keep them coming.
    Your Brutha

  11. Winter doesn't last very long here, I've already been out gardening twice this week. Today winter is reminding us that it's still here by throwing hand fulls of snow, but the crocuses and tulips are already above ground and having none of it.

    And Wee Lass will still love you when she finds out you prefer woman's underwear.

  12. Forget the weather. Your writing brightens my day when you write of your daughter. The words of adoration shine and jump right off the page.


  13. Sounds like you need some vitamin D. I get all funky during the winter, usually right about this time. Lack of sunlight. It is a killer. Here's to Spring, ender of the winter blues.

  14. Perfectly grey here, and looking forward to some sleet/wintry mix later on.

    ove to read that there's a light at the end of the tunnel.

    Lovely writing, as usual, Gumby.

  15. The best kind of day. That's all that February is good for, to make you appreciate the first day it's over. We haven't had this yet here, but you made me feel it.

  16. You truly touch my heart with these words. I can only imagine as she gets older how you will feel!

  17. That was so beautiful. I felt you walk me through each season. The joy at the end........delightful!

  18. I have a feeling that with you for a father, Wee Lass will not only never come to harm, she will thrive.

  19. BMA: Winter Funk- good band name. How long in Maryland?

    PHFL: Vitamin D! where’s my U/V lamp?

    CaJoh: Great idea. We have one in Baltimore. Doh!

    Joanie: Soon, soon…

    Petra: It keeps me going through the winter. Thank you!

    Bobby: I heard. I’m glad I was here! :)

    MD: I can’t wait.

    CPM: Yes, it is. Need some greens, too. (and I learned the welldigger thing from my dad. :)

    SK: Thank you, my dear.

    Syd: Thank you. Where at in VA? I’m from Portsmouth.

    Bro: You know it. thank you.

    Captain: Gardening? Damn… (plus she already knows. Oh, crap…)

    MHH: Thank you, that’s very kind. Glad I can help!

    Kat: I think you may be right.

    OAM: Yes, it’s good to see the light. Thank you!

    Anymommy: Right on! Good way to put it.

    Krystal: *blush* Thank you.

    SMB: Lovely! Happy to oblige!

    Briana: *blush* Thank you. That was a shot in the arm for me.

  20. Fall is always my favorite time of year. I love how you said, "Not for nothing are they called “dog days”. Dog tired and panting from the heat." Oh God, yes

  21. So very cool she knows she's the light of your life.


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...