As the new year approaches and the holiday season winds down, we slip into the deep freeze of January in Maine. These many weeks of parties, in the warm company of family and dear friends, are all but behind us and life shall shift back towards everyday.
For us, this will mean countless repetitions of helping the littlest littles into and consequently, back out of, winter attire. Rest assured, once all the layers are in place, thumbs in their proper holes, jackets zipped, boots on the correct feet and hats adjusted, the cry will emanate from tiny mouth, "Papa, I have to go peeeeeeee"..... "Reeeeeaaaaaally bad!!" Deep breath. Undress. Repeat.
(Some kids don't want to go outside in January. Other kids don't want to come back in. In our house, this is the same kid)
January will most certainly be governed by, of all things, heat. Or more pointedly, driving away the cold with flaming sticks. As the outside temperature drops, the closer one must stand to their flaming stick. It also helps to keep your hands moving with productive activities such as...well, knitting! For those of us who prefer to remain less productive, playing cribbage is a right of passage for all Mainers and transplants are usually allowed to play as well. Especially if there aren't any other Mainers around with which to play. Many People of the North claim that a bottle of beer also helps to keep their fingers warm in the throes of winter. Counterintuitive, I know, but that's what they say...
One other thing about January in Maine is that it's bound to be followed by February. Some folks in these parts like to start getting grumpy about the long winters around the beginning of September. While I personally find THAT to be slightly early, few can make it into Februaury without holding some sort of grudge against Mother Nature. So, as a species, humans have adapted to find pleasure across the windwhipped peaks and frozen, icy tundra. We slide skis, skates, sleds, boards and the like at outrageous speeds and angles to produce adrenaline fueled grins of delight. In the northeastern USA we ride with joy on whatever medium the season provides; ice, slush, corn, boiler plate and sometimes even powdery snow!
The happiest of those in these northern climes have searched to find whatever it may be to light their internal fire. A defiant attitude of rejoiceful survival amidst the natural onslaught of elements can be most helpful. We demonstrate this for our children as an example of what can be accomplished in such conditions. It's as easy as summersaults over a snowbank. It's as easy as cozying up to your flaming stick with family all around and taking in all that warmth.