The Extra Last Day of February

Having not written in awhile, I was coming home from breakfast with my friend, Eunice, and remembered it is February still, even though we have passed by February 28th. It is that once every four years anomaly (except if the year is not divisible by 4, like 1700), February 29th. Once upon a time I had a boyfriend whose birthday was February 29th. Would he age more slowly than I, I wondered at the time, lo those many decades ago, when I was 18 and he 19? I guess I can keep wondering, because last I saw him I was 23 and he 24 (or 8?) On February 29th, 1912 La Piedra Movediza (“moving or shifting stone”), a balancing rock high above Tandil, Buenos Aires Province, Argentina fell from where it had perched. It had weighed about 300 tons, and not only did it balance on the face of a high hill, but also, it rocked from morning to evening slowly enough to be imperceptible to the eye, but if one placed a breakable object, say a bottle, under the bottom of the rock, it would be found smashed later in the day. Oh, the facts we can yank from the ether these days of e- everything.

That is me in dark blue jacket in front
watching winter solstice sunrise.
Carolina Wren

Earlier this week, I was pedaling my orange Fuji Absolute hybrid bicycle. It was gorgeous out, warm, windless, sunny. But it was February! I am disturbed by these many warm days that have stippled the 2020 calendar already. So when the cold winds blew in Tuesday or Wednesday, I smiled as I shivered and re-donned my center-of-winter heavy wool jacket (see said me and said jacket in photo left). There is so much troubling going on, I need seasonableness. But this is my relationship to seasons, thus, my sense of seasonableness. In two decades, as the shift we have been experiencing for many decades already, but generally noticing for four decades, as it becomes entrenched in its trending toward extremes of all weather systems, all storm types, a person aware of weather may believe that a plethora Carolina Wrens in December in northern Massachusetts are as it should be, and the absence of Juncos is not an absence because they have not been seen, cold weather birds as they are, and barely cold as Massachusetts may be on February 29th, 2040. But, as it goes, if the earth still goes, I, based on genetics, may still be here to feel this, old though I already am. I may no longer need my center-of-winter wool jacket; I may no longer even need my end-of-winter lighter weight wool jacket. I fear this. You?

Back to the bicycle. It is serving me well. We talk, it is not my Bianchi my ride of 22 years, but it is my Fuji. We talk so that we can become more comfortable with each other. The other day I nearly head over heeled over a fire hydrant that the Fuji balked at, and I know the Bianchi would have readily sidled by. But, hmm, I am assessing blame on an aluminum and other light minerals product, and, I was just going to say, that is anthropomorphizing. And on most levels it is. BUT! But, also are not these same minerals within the body the hands of which are typing these words? Not to worry, I will not be writing a sequel to Toy Story(ies). Because I know the balker was the rider, seeing she was about to descend a short (maybe 10 feet), steep dirt and asphalt decline (at least 5%) that ended in (1) a bright red fire hydrant and (2) a curved granite curb and (3) an immediately potholed street, and choosing to descend before taking her physical bearings. So the Fuji was only wheels responding to feet on pedals, and hands gripping grips and not brakes. Split seconds! Feet leapt to dirt/asphalt, and mineral rich fingers to brake lever! Skidded to a sloppy stop short of the hydrant, and short of a header.

How is your 2020? So far I have low hopes. So far Eunice has high hopes. You?

Here is a poem by Linda Pastan. Its title is something I never experienced, but is something I was once:

To a Daughter Leaving Home

When I taught you
at eight to ride
a bicycle, loping along
beside you
as you wobbled away
on two round wheels,
my own mouth rounding
in surprise when you pulled
ahead down the curved
path of a park,
I kept waiting
for the thud
of your crash as I
sprinted to catch up,
while you grew
smaller, more breakable
with distance,
pumping, pumping
for your life, screaming
with laughter,
the hair flapping
behind you like a
handkerchief waving

Linda Pastan (1932-)

You know, I was going to end with Linda Pastan’s poem above. But then, I was looking through some books on my bookshelf and found in a book called Poetry in Motion, comprising 100 poems that graced the walls and trains of the NYC MTA, this poem by Robert Frost, which if you think about it, kind of speaks to the other end of the life of the girl that Linda Pastan watched grow up and away, to the end I find myself in now:

The Armful

For every parcel I stoop down to seize
I lose some other off my arms and knees,
And the whole pile is slipping, bottles, buns–
Extremes too hard to comprehend at once,
Yet nothing I should care to leave behind.
With all I have told with, hand and mind
And heart, if need be, I will do my best
To keep their building balanced at my breast.
I crouch down to prevent them as they fall;
Then sit down in the middle of them all.
I had to drop the armful in the road.
And try to stack them in a better load.

Robert Frost (1874-1963)

Author: Kate Hemenway

I like to explore, to observe. I like to be within what is around. There is always something to wonder about and to ponder. There is always something.. My favorite ways to get to places are bicycling and walking; or reading, or thinking, or asking. Please feel free to ask back, as I continue to wonder out loud, express joy or concern, or, sometimes, talk through my hat.

2 thoughts on “The Extra Last Day of February”

  1. Beautiful, Kate! That last poem is especially touching – thank you for sharing, I look forward to reading more of your posts!


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