(Host) With January now behind us and March just ahead, commentator Madeleine Kunin is feeling the first blush of spring fever.
(Kunin) February is when we begin to think of spring. The thermometer is still stuck in the 20’s and some nights in the single digits. It informs us that fantasies of spring are just that – fantasies. The weather channel grounds us, with its cartoon clouds and falling snowflakes swirling down the northeast coast and heading up to Vermont.
Yet there is something about turning the corner from January to February that makes us feel different. No one in Vermont is foolish enough to take off snow tires or drive quickly on the ice, but there is lightheartedness about this short month.
Could it be the light? Yes. The days are longer. We don’t have to drive home in the dark or miss the sunset. It is there in the early morning and stays with us all day.
Like the most primitive of animals, we respond to the light, opening our eyes wide, inhaling the light-filtered air. Like sunflowers, are heads turn in the light’s direction.
There is a special quality to February light. It is not as wan and thin as December and January. It has more body, more brightness, and more power to warm us – on our faces, our hands.
When February light is reflected on the snow, it sparkles like crystal. On frozen Lake Champlain the outstretched layer of snow looks as if a spatula had just spread whipped cream. It is inviting, rather than forbidding.
The mountains fringing the lake turn purple at sunset, silhouetted sharply against the yellow streaks pulled across the sky.
I look out my backyard window, and I think I see small red buds on the black tree branches. It may be wishful thinking. But I know they will stay tightly packed for several months, absorbing the winter light for nourishment.
The birds sense the change in light. Already they are practicing their songs. Someone tells me they saw their first robin.
Studies tell us that most of us have mood changes in reaction to light; no doubt they are right.
February makes us think of the endless possibilities. Nature is responding once again, as promised, to the earth’s rotation, reassuring us that spring will come.
This is Madeleine May Kunin.
Madeleine Kunin is a former Governor of Vermont.