February is a miserable month, grinchy and bad tempered. She is mean with her little purse of sunshine, keeps it tightly drawn until you’re on your knees begging for a colour other than grey. She’s a cruel mistress in a colourless cloak, her shoulders dusted with snow, her boots full of water, her hands cold and clammy. She has none of December’s festive spirit or January’s encouragement to take cosy cover. She is the boring one with nothing to recommend her, and bitter because of it.
February keeps the trees bare, their black, knotty branches all the more spooky against the clouds. She keeps the lakes just that little bit frozen, so as not to bestow the pleasant rush of warm-weather anticipation upon you – Spring seems so far away when the birds can still walk on the lakes. February, should you spend the winter in a northern European country, or indeed, just in north Germany, is the month in which you start going mad. The month in which your scarves and hats itch, your coat feels like shackles, you hate every single one of your pairs of boots.* February is the month you feel inexplicably frustrated, your fuse halved, your energy evaporated. You snap and grizzle and start making plans to move to the Mediterranean forever.
Yesterday, there was talk of this winter being north Germany’s darkest in 43 years. If the clouds persisted and the sun resisted until Thursday the 28th, the record would have been snaffled, swallowed up by the yawning grey sky, the vicious, black Baltic.
But then, today? The sun came out. The sky shook off its coat of white and shyly, very shyly, gave us a glimpse of its brilliant blue skin. The people, brought to their knees by months of cold, months of darkness, walked to work with the sun beaming weakly (apologetically). Just one more day and the record would have been had and the people driven truly mad. But no. A little sun, a little blue sky, a little hope that the buds are not far from the trees.
Because that’s just the sort of thing that makes February laugh.
* Having skipped most of winter, I am still deeply in love with my boots, particularly the new pairs I have treated myself to.