Sometimes, anticipation is almost as good as the real thing. Take February for instance.
It’s not quite spring yet, despite what riotously blooming daffodils might make us think. One day it’s sunny and seventy and the next day it spits snow. But we know without even glancing at the calendar that winter is on the way out. I’m not sad to see it go. Gray skies and bare trees and mud can wear on a person after a while.
February has had some bright spots for me this year. I kept my New Year’s resolution to send Valentine cards to out-of-town friends and family I intended to send Christmas cards to but never did. My favorite part of the card-sending was hearing back from many of the card-receivers. My second favorite part was discovering that the post office has issued new “love” stamps. They feature adorable cartoon puppies and kittens with paws resting on a big red heart. Not only did I put those stamps on my Valentines, I’m also planning to use them for all my snail mail this year, whatever the reason or season.
The second good thing that happened in February was that I received my seven-gallon donor pin from the American Red Cross. I’m proud of this milestone. I started donating blood way back when I was in college and have never stopped. I do it partly because my dad was a devoted blood donor and partly because my blood type is in great demand and partly because the mini-physical all blood donors receive reassures me that my blood pressure and iron levels are okay. But the main reason I do it is that blood saves lives. An hour of my time and a needle stick that hardly hurts at all are a small price to pay to help keep someone from dying.
When I donated back in January at the Putnam County Library, the young woman at the check-in table looked at her computer and smiled and told me it was my fifty-sixth lifetime donation. “Thank you and congratulations,” she said. “Seven gallons!”
“Yippee!” I said. “Do I get a pin?”
She shook her head. “These days, donor pins are virtual,” she told me. “You can view it on your phone or tablet.” When she saw my face fall, she handed me a slip of paper with an e-mail address where I could request a real pin, which I did as soon as I got home. I wear that pin with pride on the collar of my winter coat.
While at the library that day, I also donated a dollar to buy a paper heart on which I could write one thing I love about our library. In February, it would be posted on a wall with lots of other dollar hearts. My answer? EVERYONE IS WELCOME HERE.
Last but not least on my list of good things about February can be summed up in one of my favorite phrases in the English language: the lengthening of the days. One afternoon, out of the blue, you notice it’s not dark at 5:00 any more. You look up at the unmistakable sound of Sandhill cranes high overhead, winging their way from the Hiwassee Refuge back to wherever they spend the warm months. Horses begin to shed their fuzzy winter coats. Spring peepers tune up in shallow ponds and the grass looks just a tiny bit greener every day. Nature knows that the earth is tilting.
Some folks shake their heads in a Bah-Humbug kind of way when I mention these things. “Winter’s not over yet!” they warn. “Just you wait and see.” I nod and reply that I won’t plant my zinnia seeds or shove my winter coat with the Seven-Gallon Blood Donor pin on it into the back of the closet just yet.
But it won’t be long before I do.
(February 25, 2023)