Here in Central Arkansas, we’re getting what passes as a “snow” day around these parts (to a chorus of snickers from – well – anywhere else in the world that gets actual snowfall).
It does give me some time to pause and reflect on how in days past my family spent our Februarys.
From the mid-nineteen eighties, until my oldest son started first grade, we spent the shortest month on the year traveling as far south as we could drive – to the Florida Keys.
Some years, it was for only a week. Most years, it was for the entire month. Nevertheless, we always looked forward to getting away to Paradise, if only for a little while, while the rest of the country was still locked in the throes of Winter.
We listened to Funky Cold Medina. Learned of the liberation of Kuwait from a small hotel TV. Watched the media circus following Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction from down there. Saw and heard the aftermath of Dale Earnhardts tragic death.
Our Valentines Days had unbelievably beautiful sunsets. Periodic temperature dips into the forties that felt sub-zero, in housing designed for the subtropics. Key Lime Pie. Plumbers that only showed up on days too windy to be out on the water.
Fishing. Reading. Eating.
It’s been a good ten years since we spent our last February in Islamorada. Another life ago, it almost seems.
These days we’re anchored to the dictates of the school year. Homework. Career. Life.
Yet, we still long for those warm, lazy, low-sun winter days, spent near the 24th parallel.
I can’t tell you how many Februarys I’ve told myself that I would never scrape another windshield. I think about it every time I hurriedly search for my ice scraper on dark Winter mornings.
Its hard not to feel the tug of unbelievably bright clear skies , achingly blue green water, and the doldrums of island time – when all around is the cold grey grip of the now, and normalcy.
The cold has me replaying those memories so carefully packed away.
The time we went out on the reef in a small bass boat, designed for a fresh-water lake and not the open ocean, and lived to tell the tale. Evenings looking for the flash of green as the sun dipped below the horizon. Mentally counting the days until next year.
Just another snow day.