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February

February by David Kowalczyk
bleak, bitter, barren
dull, dreary, dismal    
gray, grim, grinding
stark, shriveled, sullen


February doesn’t get much respect. Valentine’s Day provides a flash of red roses and foil-wrapped chocolate, but mostly what is written and said about February is that we want it to be over. It’s been a mild winter so far, but also a gray one. Here in Cleveland, it is a time when the sky is gray, the ground is gray, even the Lake is gray. It is the season for rock salt and potholes. 2020 is a leap year, so we get an extra day of winter . . . in February. Sigh. 

A visit to Wikipedia will help you learn that February was established as a month in the ancient Roman calendar around 700 BC. Their calendar established twelve months, with March 1 as the start of the new year. February was put off until the end. The name came from the festival of Februa, a period of ritual washing and rebirth. Old English names for the month translate as “mud month” or “cabbage month.” Cold and wet, February is a time to eat what’s left in the root cellar. Poets from Atwood to Longfellow to Wordsworth have all written poems about February, and they share common theme: it’s cold; hunker down; spring may come.*

And, then, within a minute of the final play in the Super Bowl, a friend posts on Facebook about the start of baseball season! Maybe spring will come after all.

There are things to celebrate in February. It is the birth month of both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. It is the month we celebrate the contributions of African Americans to our history and our culture. It is the start of spring training in baseball and the time when college basketball fans begin to plan for March Madness. This year, even Mardi Gras happens in February. 

And even in the dead of winter, new things are happening at Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging. Elsewhere in this newsletter you can read more about the launch of LIFEPOP, a partnership between BRIA’s ESOP and MetroHealth. We also celebrate the public launch of Best Practices Caregiving and the effort to raise awareness and increase access to proven caregiver support programs. February at Benjamin Rose is a time to celebrate new ideas, new programs, and new partnerships. Your involvement helps make all that possible. So, “Happy Februa!” and thank you for your support.

Orion Bell

*If you are looking for a February poem, or one on any other topic, check out Poem Hunter online:
https://www.poemhunter.com/poems/february/page-1/9295682/