When it is February—my least favorite month—I have to climb out of bed and start my car in my pajamas and boots, because it will take as long as I take to get ready to melt the layer of ice on my windshield, or to, at least, soften the snow that has piled on it in the night.

When winter is between a lion and a lamb, or a lamb and a lion, the streets are thick with a carpet of snow, the sidewalks pebbled with footprints, the streetlamps glow yellow, illuminating the falling flakes in orbs around them. If you walk, it is not graceful, it is a trudge because there is no other way to walk in winter but to trudge.

The skies cannot make up their minds right now—piercing blue one day, so cold my tear ducts freeze, and warm grey the next, a blanket come down on our cold county.

At night on lit ponds and lakes and rivers and driveways, boys and their hockey sticks battle for small black pucks. Skates are sharpened, flashes of gleaming light.

On cold nights at home, after the stew has been put away, and the rooibos is brewing, I lay under the baby grand in the living room and she plays Sunken Cathedral by Debussy and all is right in the world for those minutes.

We sit around the table made from boards that slaves once slept on, and we play card games and we laugh too loudly, too late. I am competitive, but I never win.

People like to stay home right now, go straight from work because it is dark already and still. They stay in, wrapped in afghans and heat from the woodstove.

In February, she and I roll our eyes to one another because all the mamas are at home with their babies, enjoying winter, while we have to start our cars at ungodly hours and work all day in an office that still cannot regular its temperature. (But we still wouldn't trade those hours.)

This is the time of year when my cheeks smart in the morning when I come unburrowed from my down comforter, and when I turn the shower water on ten minutes before I get in. This is the time of year when I breathe the warm shower air, hoping it will sink so deeply into my lungs that I won't feel the biting cold when I step out in a few minutes.

It never works.

At home, February is my least favorite month.

And still I miss it.

 table set for dinner: lentil stew