We've made it. January is gone. I don't know whether I'd go so far as to call January the most challenging month of the year - but in my book it's close. This year in particular, when we only had one day above 32 degrees and far too many below zero, I welcome January's departure with a hearty hurrah.
Yesterday, when the long-awaited thaw finally arrived and 45 degrees felt like being baked on a tropical beach, the hard packed snow was cut through with rivers of slush and innumerable tiny cricks that flowed along the sidewalk.
But that was yesterday. When winter returned overnight and hung around to greet February, all that abundant melting froze. Now the sidewalks are sheets of ice that make dog walking an extreme sport.
The point of all this ranting (though I do believe ranting is a valid end in itself)? As I shuffled (the only safe way to move on the ice paths that line my neighborhood) along with my two dogs this morning, I realized how unfortunate it is that my eyes had to stay on the sidewalk.
The winter sky deserves more attention. A stark wash of blue. The sun pale and always a little hazy. Austere colors made all the more striking by the snaking dark branches of leafless trees that break up the endless expanse above. And at night. Ah night. The stars glitter more brightly against that cold black canvas. Light and oblivion.
Winter conditions draw our eyes down. Stomping boots, breath that materializes before us and then fades away, treacherous slipping feet as we try to make our way forward. Hesitant, irritable, impatient for the spring.
And winter's grace escapes us.
Dangerous though it may be, I'll be looking up more from now on. It's worth the risk.