February, the Silas Marner of Months


Thirty days hath September
April, June, and November.
All the rest have thirty-one
Except for February, which is endless.

Yes, I borrowed that from Charley McDowell, a Washington columnist of my youth.  But then, so did Tom Silvestri, by way of Ray McAllister, where I found McDowell’s Greatest February Hits.  He found 10 of them.  All we need is about 275 more, and we could market a nice February desk calendar. It might be possible, since the University of Virginia has his papers, and there’s a heading, “Columns – February, Seasons, Holidays.” Since he reprinted them from the old Washington Daily News Richmond Times-Dispatch archives, without fear of SOPA, PIPA, or Righthaven, so do I.  Consider this the Name of the Rose of blog posts.

•”February is set apart from other months by the outrages it perpetuates, including its fraudulent pretense to brevity.”

•”February dissolves hope like its rain dissolves taxis.” (A Washington perspective.)

•”We know the trickery of this month. Over the centuries it has become famous for its pretense to brevity on the calendar. In reality February is distinguished for weather that balefully stretches time, a month as long as the War of the Austrian Succession, a month of Mondays, an addled sequence of snow, sleet, rain, freezing fog, floods, mud, drizzles, sudden gales of old oak leaves, trash, parking tickets, forgotten Christmas bills, and expensive prescriptions. Yes, we have come to know that a glimmer of sunshine in February is just stage lighting for the entrance of furies.”

•”The only thing that goes fast in February is the occasional misapprehension that things are getting better.”

•”Not that anyone would by fooled by February once he got used to the pace and mood of it. It is . . . less exhilarating than the flu. It is the Silas Marner of months. . . . It is 28 Sunday afternoons in Philadelphia, except leap year, when it is 29.”

•”There is nothing short about February but the temper of man. February is when the battery quits, the snow shovel breaks on the ice, the glove is lost, the galosh is ripped, the milk freezes, the dessert doesn’t jell, the cat and the paranoid furnace run amok.”

•”There is enough of February left to do us in. But February also is capable of a joke in which it undermines our sanity by never getting notably unpleasant. To February, the greenhouse effect, global warming, is a thousand laughs.”

•”Whatever we don’t know, surely, we have learned not to look to February to make us feel better about anything.”

•”February has the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington in it, but actually everyone in the world gets at least a year older in the course of February.”

•”What interests me about February was how long it seemed, how bleak and relentless, how humorless and, at the same time, how full of mockery for optimists and for groundhogs who thought they had seen a signal of better times.”

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