Knock 'em dead, kid. - Stephen Dunn
The heavy wheel groans again, and reminds us that winter is truly ending. The return of baseball is just another sign that our hibernation inside our modern caves is just about wrapped up.
The last two weeks of February is the time each year when I start to realize that I won't die during winter, at least this year. Each year that I get older is another year when winter seems that much more interminable and miserable. Once I get through New Year's, the long march to spring begins, and while it's really just a month or two, it feels longer.
I mark time throughout by the diminishing size of my reserve of seasoned, split firewood that is easily reachable from my porch. Each log that comes off the pile is like an inverted version of a mark on the wall in a fictionalized Tower of London. The garden catalogs, with their promises of summer bounty (rather than creeping charlie and Asian tiger mosquitoes) start to fill my mailbox. My freezer is down to the last few dregs of the quarter steer from the prior year: "Number 491, you were super-delicious, but I wish that the last fifteen pounds of your mortal remains included something other than tongue, hamburger, soup bones, and an arm roast."
So I'm left with a not-atypical February weekend dinner of beef vegetable soup, homemade rye/wheat bread, a bottle of wine (thankfully a nice Bordeaux that was reasonably priced and surprisingly good, at least by the fourth glass), and one of my last fires of the year. Some ancient part of me is worried that the weather won't break before the food runs out, but the Weis is right down the road, and Columbia Gas will keep me from freezing to death. My ancestors were surely skinny about this time of winter, but I'm
fatter sleeker than ever, thanks to a few months of hiding from the weather.
Still, while I'm not nearly starving and not anywhere close to freezing, it's winter. It's not over yet. There are signs, though. I heard more birds than usual when I was walking the dogs this morning. Some of my flowers have tips that are peeking through the mulch in sheltered areas. The skunks are leaving their calling cards in the evening before they retire into their burrow under my fucking bedroom window.
After walking the dogs this morning when they got up at the crack of dawn (because they don't know it's Sunday and that they should sleep till at least ten), I sat down to a Sunday paper that had "Charlie isn't worried about a new contract" and "Phillies focused on winning, not breaking hips" stories. Thank god. I started thinking about finding some PG-rated homoerotic fanfic of longing to model my midseason Utley/Halladay material on and I got my netbook fired up to start cranking out material for the year.
And I began to obsess about how I will avoid having Carlos Pena and Mitch Moreland as my 1B platoon again this year, because I'm worrying about my fantasy team. My son thoughtfully reminded me today of the chestnut that nothing is less interesting than someone else's fantasy team: "Your fantasy team is boring, dad. And it sucked last year." "But I was in first place!" "For like a week or so." "Everyone got hurt." "Don't make excuses, dad. That's what you tell me. You could draft a team that comes in next-to-last without spending any time on it ahead of time. Let's go to the pool." That snotty little fucker. Where did he get that from?