For people conscious of films made in the latter part of the previous century, you’ll have a clue as to where this entry is headed. Or, maybe you just have a calendar that includes the major to sufficiently culturally important holidays and realized it was February the second. (I’ve also heard about people who read or watch the news, but that’s out of my territory.)
Regardless, today is the day we rouse a rodent from hibernation, ask if it can see its shadow, and from that determine the duration of the year’s winter; because if we’re to be perfectly honest, interpreting a groundhog’s intuition is about as scientifically reliable as the weather report. Call me old-fashioned, but I tend to rely on the “look outside” method of weather prediction: if I look outside and it’s x, I predict a 100% chance that it is currently x outside. My margin of error is quite low, thus far. And yes, some would argue this is an observation and not a prediction — I say it’s semantics. Anyhow, this year Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring to the delight of many.
Meanwhile I’m watching snow spit from an archetypically wintry sky on one of the coldest days on record for the year. I suppose if winter has to end early it needs to pack everything in before it’s too late. Although, if we’re going by the lunar calendar tomorrow is Spring come snow, sleet, rain or hail; perhaps, even, all of the above in quick succession. The Japanese have historically celebrated this event (called Setsubun 節分) sometime around the Lunar New Year, therefore a time of renewal and ritual/spiritual cleansing of which a major component is throwing beans at demons (mamemaki 豆まき). Nowadays it seems like it’s more an excuse for parents to scare the ever-loving daylights out of some little kids. If you throw enough beans and exorcise the demon from your house, you’ll have good luck for the coming year. That’s incentive.
So, these past few days have been one real whiz bang of a fall day after another–leaves falling, crunching under my feet, the drifting smell of woodsmoke, and the sky taking on the slightest appearance of winter. I think it’s the clouds that give the greatest indication of the season. Recently I’ve been waking to an overcast sky, an endless sea of waves all frozen in mid-undulation so that I feel I’m suspended upside down in midair. Or maybe it’s more like being in a giant ice cavern, me just an old fossil buried miles and miles below Earth’s surface. Then when the sky opens up to that crystal clear blue I rise up to the surface and take a huge breath. I’m coming to think my nerves are best tempered to autumn; other seasons fatigue and exhaust me, but fall just soothes my whole being. It’s probably a matter of humidity, or absence thereof, that keeps me from tiring as quickly.
This entry has been simmering for a week or so now, but instead of having some great tale to spin all I can say is we’ve had a warm spell so those beautifully cloudy days have retreated for the moment. Actually, I did go to a lecture yesterday that was pretty interesting. Naturally I can’t remember the speaker’s name, but he discussed the plight of the present day as the absolute necessity to know what is occurring at every second of the day, while it is occurring. If it’s happening, everyone, myself included, must know about it, no question. The problem here being that we no longer give consideration to ourselves, so wrapped up in technology and the like as we are. So, in an effort to regain that focus on our inner thoughts and motivations, I am taking part in the Unplug initiative, which basically entails giving up some form of social networking/technology for at least a 24 hour period. I went with Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube; kind of the Big Three, if you will. In all honesty, the most difficult is probably Youtube, since there are just so many terrific videos available in an instant.
I also just realized the irony to this whole talk of mine is that I’ll be posting this and Twitter will automatically tweet about it. There’s no escape.