Ah, February in Ithaca, you unpolished, neglected gem!
With one hand frozen into a claw the shape of an ice-scraper handle and Ithaca’s infrastructure turned into an enormous, pothole-studded salt lick, it’s tempting around here to think of February as the longest nine weeks of the year. Yet, it’s quietly packed with some of the best holidays. Without even realizing it, we’re smack dab in the middle of the most festive time of the year.
Sure, it's been below freezing since before the inauguration, but we're not the only people who have winter, and I have to say that some others seem to handle it with more grace. The Norwegians have a saying: "There is no bad weather, only bad clothing." (They also say, "shameful deeds deserve harsh revenge," which has nothing to do with weather, but as proverbs go, it's undeniably awesome.) The clothing thing is an excellent point. Ever since they got that Viking thing out of their systems, the Norwegians strike me to be eminently sensible people. Dress for conditions. Don't wear crocs in snow. Put on a hat.
Mark Twain famously said of the weather, "if you want it to be sunny and warm all the time, move to freakin' San Diego." I'm paraphrasing, but he's right. Secretly, Ithacans like the dead of winter. We're a little smug about enduring it. Admit it, it's kind of cozy inside. A person can lounge around in socks and a bathrobe all weekend without feeling the slightest guilt. You can't do that in southern California. They'll arrest you for Criminal Immobility. And let's face it, so far the year 2021 has called for the dim light of the indoors, with an arctic wind howling outside. Chirping birds and sunshine would be an unseemly backdrop for all that's been going on.
Oh, yes, the holidays! Who can forget the giddy adventures of Groundhog Day? And that Super Bowl? Never has there been so much hoopla over the opportunity to watch an aging cyborg terrorize a defenseless young man before a largely cardboard audience. Mid-February is absolutely loaded: chili cook-offs, Lincoln's Birthday, Valentine's Day, Mardi Gras. February has officially become impeachment season. Personally, I love the traditional Running of the Republican Senators. I watch it wearing Mardi Gras beads and a stovepipe hat festooned with Valentine candy hearts, to get into the festive spirit.
Of course, this is also the time of the Ithaca Loves Teachers' Money Festival, which lasts to the end of the month this year. Already a place renowned the world over for having a high concentration of know-it-alls, Ithaca has taken to inviting thousands more to visit every February recess in the form of state public school teachers. I am one, and let me tell you, this is very dangerous. You'll need to be very careful about what you say on and around the Commons lest you be corrected or assigned a detention. We all remember last year's misunderstanding when several visitors were sent to Principal Myrick's office for inappropriate language. Be welcoming to these folks. If you see someone clutching one of those badges, a reliable conversational ice-breaker is to politely insist that it's easier to teach during a pandemic.
Anyway, for those of us who stay through the winter, February’s not all road spray and gray snow. It’s the second holiday season. Enjoy.