The February Ritual

It has nothing to do with Valentine’s Day, regardless of restaurant advertisements for special dinners or those hawking jewelry, gifts or candy.  When you love someone it’s 24/7 365/366 days of the year, not just one day in February.

Phfft.

Nope.  It’s because February marks the middle of winter — for those of us in the northern hemisphere.  And despite daylight hours lengthening, for some of us it means the coldest, grayest days, cold rains, snow, sleet, ice, bare trees and bulky clothes because fashion be damned, we’re trying to keep warm.

By February we’re tired of winter.  There are no fun holidays.  We’re getting cabin fever.  No outdoor festivals and friends refuse to go with you to the beach even on a sunny day (“No, I wont’ go with you.  You’re f’n nuts!) for a walk and beachcombing.  (Those winter storms really wash up great stuff.)  No one is feeling merry or bright.  Dogs don’t even want to walk the morning mile when it’s 20 degrees outside — with the exception of Huskies who revel in the chill.

It’s the mid-winter slump and we need a pick-me-up and over the hump until leaves and flowers begin to emerge and people and nature thaw, hence The February Ritual: fresh flowers.  Every week.

I started doing this after college when mid-winter breaks were only memories and the drudgery of adulthood set in.  At the beginning of every work week, I’d head out to the nearest florist to my office (even in the snow).  No need for fancy or pricey arrangements.  I headed for the coolers and made my selections, almost always stargazer lilies and purple irises, 2 of one kind, 1 of the other.  Long lasting big, bold blooms that offset the dreariness of the season and cubicle/office life.

Go in person.  Do not order them ahead of time, over the internet, and certainly not from Amazon.  Select the freshest of what’s available.  Shop local.

A colleague stopped by once and noticed the flowers.
“Nice flowers! What’s the occasion?”
“It’s still winter.”
It wasn’t the expected response and he quickly backed away.

Last year I found a place where I could get ½ dozen roses for the astounding price of $3.99.  Whoa!  So, with the exception of the week containing Valentine’s Day when there’s an extreme markup on roses, I buy bold deep pink or coral roses, sometimes even deep peach.  The week of the 14th I buy some other bold arrangement because fake flowers just don’t get the endorphins going.

Admittedly there have been years when the ritual lasted beyond the month — and season (according to the calendar) — when winter just didn’t want to go away.  This year I highly suspect we’re going to get walloped with a big storm at the end of winter which will kill the early spring flowers.

And the roses I bought the first week of the month?  Still looked great by the 14th, because damn I’m good.