Atop Hawk Mountain, Pa., 2010

Atop Hawk Mountain, Pa., 2010
Photo by R.E. Berg-Andersson

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Groundhog Day

I have never seen the Bill Murray film "Groundhog Day" but I know the premise - you hear about it every February 2.

A weatherman finds himself living the same day over and over again. 

I would not want to relive the same day over and over again until I get it "right," whatever that is. I look at every day as an experiment. What will I do this time that is better than last time?

When you work every day and do the same thing over and over again, it isn't easy to accomplish this. When you get to the weekend it seems there is not enough time in the day.

As I write today, Feb. 2, it is 52 degrees. It feels like spring after weeks of "polar vortex." Last night I kept the heat closed and a window open, rising in the morning to find a 56-degree house. Once the heat warmed the house to a tolerable level, I shut it off and opened a few windows again, letting in some valuable moisture from the melting snow. I want all the snow gone but it takes a long time to melt the 14 inches (12+2+2) that fell from three storms within 10 days, and more is expected tonight into tomorrow.

(R.E. Berg-Andersson)
And more cold, forcing the windows shut, the heat on and my hands to return to the sandpaper they were before I opened the windows.

By coincidence, it is also Super Bowl Sunday. People say how the National Football League "lucked out" that what could've been an extremely cold championship game last weekend will be seasonable or better today. People are going to parties. They will pay more attention to the advertisements than the game because the alleged "news" reports have told them to do so. They have been told all week what an "event" this is. It has dominated the news, more so than the killings in Africa, the Middle East and even in parts of Newark.

People are "stocking up" on junk food and beer and will stuff themselves as they do on Thanksgiving -- only this "holiday" is truly secular and they can spend it with people they choose, not their relatives. They will hope to win huge amounts of money from their office betting pools.

The football game itself will be almost an after-thought.

The spectacle is the same every year, and this is as close to "Groundhog Day" as I get - not a repeat of the same day but the same events every year. If it is February, we will spend the next few Saturdays, weather permitting of course, celebrating my birthday and that of a friend - and I have a lot of friends born in February. It is like getting 3 birthday parties. That part is good.

But sitting here with the open window reminds me of another annual ritual I do not like - barking dogs and home repair noises by my more energetic neighbors (or the men they hire) and children finally allowed outside to play. The same windows that have kept in the dry, hot air that makes me sneeze and drink glasses of water also kept out the noises that distract me as I work.

Soon enough will come dog walkers (like the ones passing by now) and kids not in school and more owners with dogs in the dog park and the smell of barbeques and the roar of lawn mowers and leaf blowers.

The thought of all that happening again and again until the bitter end depresses me, like looking down an endless, dark corridor. In a sense, that is what aging is.

It is inevitable, but for now let us not go there.
Cardinal pair (Margo D. Beller)

Let us, instead, think ahead to the annual ritual of when the birds head north. Right now, my feeders have drawn an assortment including juncos, white-throated sparrows, cardinals, titmice, chickadees, Carolina wren, downy and hairy and redbellied woodpeckers. I long for the bright yellows of the warblers and to see some of the larger birds - tanagers, flycatchers, grosbeaks and ducks. I want to go out and find them on my work breaks and my weekends.

Even though I will once again be struggling with pots of vegetables and repairing the damage done by chipmunks, I want to look up and see northbound Canada geese. I want the snow to be gone. I want to complete the projects I didn't have the time or energy to complete last fall.

I want to try and do better this year.

Isn't that what spring is all about, having another chance to get it right?

(Happy birthday, Candita, wherever you are.)