Sewer grate

Years ago, Jo(e) mentioned that February is the longest month, and every winter I remember her remark right about now, at the beginning of another interminable February, when it seems like spring and warmth and sandal season will never come. April might be the cruelest month, but right now, anything seems better than February.

Snow on planetree fruit

Today is a tolerable February day: sunny and above freezing, with a couple inches of fresh snow brightening the ground. Compared to last week’s bitter single-digit temperatures, this week feels almost balmy, with temperatures where you can breathe without the air feeling like razor blades lacerating your lungs.

Tomorrow, we’re expecting up to a foot of new snow; this weekend, the forecast calls for even more. In February, it almost doesn’t matter what the forecast says—sunny or snowy, cold or even colder—because in February, you’re basically bored by it all. You’ve seen fresh snow become old snow, old snow become snow-melt, and snow-melt become ice. In February, you’ve weathered cold days, gray days, and bleak and barren glare-days, so any meteorologic condition the heavens can conspire feels like a tired rehash of something you’ve already weathered, repeatedly.

Lost key

In February, the novelty of winter has worn off, and even the winter doldrums—a condition I described last January as consisting of “that sluggish, sorry space where you’re unmotivated to do much of anything other than idly browsing online for spring sandals and sighing”—seems old, old, old: something you’ve experienced so long and so many times that you can’t even rouse yourself to hate it.

So, yes, Jo(e), you’re right: February is indeed the longest month, regardless of what the calendar might say. In February, we’ve run through time and again the same old coping strategies: we’ve kept active, taken our vitamins, and tried to inoculate ourselves with plenty of light and color. In February, we discover at long last that no matter what we do to hurry along the days until spring, the month we’re in nevertheless insists on being approximately 90 days long.