You really have to search for fun during the January doldrums. Canadian friends, for example, have reported buying new martini glasses and changing their mattress. But now, in February, there are so many exciting things happening I don’t know where to begin.
Today, for example, is Groundhog Day. Traditionally, this is the day that the groundhog (a species of marmot—much hated by all farmers) wakes up from hibernation and pokes his head out of his hole to see what’s up. If it’s sunny and he sees his shadow he then goes back down to sleep for another 6 weeks and winter will continue. If, on the other hand, it’s a cloudy day and he doesn’t see his shadow, then winter is about to give up the ghost, and spring is just around the corner.
Here, in my village, the postman has reported that the hedgehogs are out running around and about busy getting run over. This is the same idea.
Next Monday is Chinese New Year, and luckily, we have a Chinese restaurant in the next village. Often quite empty, it is extremely authentic. In winter, for example, you usually have to keep your coat on to eat as it’s so cold. They have integrated well into the Swiss world and serve pizzas on the weekends. However, I’m sure that their Peking Duck will be most delicious.
Then, the day after, is Pancake Day. Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent begins, was the greatest day for lunch at our house of the whole year, as we ate our annual pancakes – orange slices, butter, and golden corn syrup–maple syrup was a luxury beyond our means. [For authentic Canadian pancakes beat 2 eggs, add 2 tbls sugar, 1 cup milk, 1/2 tsp salt, 3/4 tsp baking powder, and 1 cup flour. Beat everything for a couple of minutes and cook in a non-stick pan. Douse with butter, squeezed orange, maple syrup. Roll up and eat.]
Moving right along, there is Valentine’s Day on the 14th. This, of course, features chocolate and flowers which I have found one often has to buy for oneself in order to avoid disappointment. And this is followed by a relatively new holiday in Ontario, called Family Day. This is one of those odd half-holidays (i.e., not a national one), so there are some complaints that the kids are all off school and the parents have to go to work.
This is the same week as the Winter Break in the Geneva school system. Here there are 5 days off school and in the old days when there was snow, kids would be shipped off to ski camps. I don’t know where they will be shipped off to this year. Perhaps it will be a week-long Family Day at home.
So, altogether, there’s hardly a day free to work and worry about the usual mundane winter problems. The groundhog’s shadow, pancakes of different flavors and nationalities, flowers from shops and garden, the kids home from school. February is my favorite month.