Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A Love Letter to February

Many folks take a harsh view of February. Due to interminable wintry days that make Spring seem so very far off, they see it as the longest month instead of literally the shortest.

For my part, I am a big fan of February. Just about everything February is suggestive of hope and happiness. So here's wishing one and all a happy February.

February is a wonderful month for ramping up a walking program. Sure, there may be a little crunch of snow underfoot, depending on where you live, but the days are gradually increasing in length, and you can see the colorful birds searching for food a little longer each day.

February is when the first little flower -- the crocus -- usually pokes its pretty head out of the ground, sometimes right between thin sheets of ice or snow. It heralds all the blooms that will follow not so many weeks distant.

February of course brings St. Valentine's Day, an occasion for celebrating love, sweet love. Chocolates are always nice, and so is a glass of wine. But February brings many other happy occasions:
National Bird-Feeding Month. American Heart Month. National Wear Red Day (especially for women and heart health; this Friday, February 5, wear your red!). Groundhog Day. Presidents Day. And in Canada, Family Day and also Flag Day.

Of course, there is the Super Bowl in the good ol' USA the first Sunday of February. To me, the happiest thing about the Super Sunday spectacle is that it means the first stirrings of baseball's Spring Training are only two weeks away. 

(This Sunday's Super Bowl is a rarity for me: I like both teams, the "hometown" Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos. On the Denver side, this might be the final game for 39-year-old Peyton Manning, for whom I have rooted since he was an 18-year-old taking over as quarterback at the University of Tennessee. And Cam Newton, QB for the Panthers, has had an amazing season, meriting league MVP. Both teams have tough defensive units. It figures to be a game worthy of the "Super" label.)

It is personal to me that so much of February is about heart and the heart. It was just two days before St. Valentine's Day 11 years ago that I had heavy-duty heart surgery -- complete replacement of aortic valve and aortic root -- that made it possible for me to continue my journey into the senior years and to enjoy the blessings of being a grandparent. Yes, my 11th re-birthday is fast approaching. (Hint, hint, family members -- party time?)

Each February, my Sadie dog (who had been my walking companion every step of the way since I hit the big 6-Oh and then continued into the oh-oh 70s) had her thorough "wellness" checkup. She had that exam a year ago today and received a good report for a 14-year-old lab retriever. 

Sadly, the end of Sadiedawg's road on this Earth arrived last August with liver failure. I will never forget my kindred spirit. But this February, thanks to All 4 Paws in Pawley's Island, I have a new walking companion, sweet rescue dog 7-year-old Ellie Mae. And on the second day of this February, I received a happy call from Dr. Meredith Teague, Ellie's (and Sadie's) wonderful veterinarian, saying that biopsies of a suspicious mass came back benign -- no cancer, she's fine. And all her earlier bloodwork was perfect. Yet another reason to celebrate February!

So Miss Ellie and I are looking to step up our walking this February with the spirit of Sadie right with us, and we wish happy hiking to all of you who may be doing the same. Happy trails! Happy Super Sunday! And play ball!

                          © Robert G. Holland  2016

(This piece is adapted from last year's blogpost on February.)

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